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Fire in the Belly

A Talk to the Canberra Jung Society

on the Canberra Firestorm of 18 January 2003

Friday 6 June 2003

by Patrick Fleming, Ross White and Jeff Woodgate.

Outline

These three men, all from Duffy in Weston Creek in the ACT, had different experiences of the firestorm which swept through Duffy on 18 January 2003.  Each of the men reacted to the storm in his own way.  Each has had to face different outcomes and implications as a result of the firestorm.

One lost everything, his house, his work place and all of the garden and fences.  The garden and home of another was relatively untouched although many of his neighbours’ homes were burnt down.  The third managed to save his house, but incurred considerable damage to the house and contents as well as his garden and fences.

In this talk, they will all explore their individual experiences of the firestorm and will discuss these experiences in terms of both inner and outer processes and reactions.

Ross White and Patrick Fleming are both Psychologists practicing in Canberra.  Ross works principally in his own home based practice which was in Duffy, but temporarily in Hughes while his home and practice were being rebuilt. Patrick’s main work is with Child and Adolescent Mental Health, and as well he has a private room in the City and runs workshops on psychodrama.  Jeff is a former teacher ands now works for the Australian Public Service in Industrial Relations.

Ross is a former President of the Canberra Jung Society and a Life Member, and Jeff is a Member of the Society.  Ross recently completed a Master of Science thesis in Social Ecology on belongingness and sense of place, Patrick in currently undertaking a Doctorate on ethics and Jeff has commenced studying analytical psychology.    All drew on their specific interests while exploring the impacts of the firestorm on them.

1. Ross introduced the trio and outlined the approach to the talk.

2. Each speaker spoke for ten minutes or so, giving the impact of the firestorm on them –
     * Patrick on sense of self,
     * Jeff on the internal and extern al fires,
     * Ross on sense of place.

3. Members of the audience were invited to turn to person next to them
    and spend ten minutes discussing their experience of 18 January.

4. Return to trio and sum up of the outcomes of discussions.

5. Break for a cuppa.

6. Return to general discussion and ending.

Ross's Story

Belongingness and sense of place.

Introduced "Why I am taking this approach – topic of my thesis, a strong aspect of my life". 

Also People and Psyche in terms of belongingness.

Reference the Colloquium paper.

My story of the day

Paper circulated, but outline

Previously in USA

At coast for the day, even though friend had preliminary warning.

Found out at 3pm house probably gone by then.

Drove back.

Took paper to arrival at house.

Intend to rebuild.

Why?

Belongingness and sense of place.

Stages since then

  * Sitting at the side of the pond after cleaning up the yard.
     It is my house, even if it doesn’t have a roof.

  * Challenges of neighbours and loss of tree.  My belongingness and something to hold onto.

  * Gradual loss of so much with demolition and clearing, then preparing for new house.

What is left?  Can it sustain my sense of place?

  * My thesis is yes, as I believe that there is a rootedness there
     which is more than jus the house and garden as it was

  * Also community – immense support financially and people wise.

  * Future community support – e.g. garden support.

  * Local shopkeeper and tragedy.

  * Reference back to paper – will the suburb be the same?

Other

My immense respect for Jeff and Patrick
as I listen to their stories of their 18 January days.

Dreams

       * The toilet dream

       * Busy dreams

       * Rebuilding dreams.

~0~

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