The fires might be out, but the rebuilding effort has just begun, and for many people, the emotional pain is just bubbling below the surface.
Since the bushfire crisis began in December last year, Lifeline calls have increased by over 10 per cent.
Lifeline believes the distress and trauma will continue for years to come.
In response, it has set up a bushfire recovery line – 13 HELP.
Lifeline Chairman John Brogden said the helpline will directly assist people in bushfire affected areas with traditional suicide and crisis support, along with connections to recovery services.
The PAYCE Foundation has pledged its support for the service with a $50,000 donation.
PAYCE Foundation Director James Boyd said it was critical to support people suffering following Australia’s largest bushfire crisis.
“The Foundation has a strong focus on mental health, and we were looking at the best way we could assist now and into the future,’’ Mr Boyd said.
“The physical damage will repair but it is important we help to repair the mental and emotional damage from this devastating natural disaster.
“A dedicated recovery line which also connects people with the right support services fitted the bill perfectly.”
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told a packed Grand Ballroom at The Fullerton Hotel the focus was now on not only repairing the damage but also managing the emotional toll.
Among those on the front line was NSW Minister and Member for Bega, Andrew Constance, who almost lost his house.
Many of his constituents were not so lucky.