2020 has been the year of coronavirus, shutdowns, protests against police brutality and racial injustice, and, if you cast your mind far back enough, devastating bushfires. There was a time earlier this year when everything from the airwaves to our social media feeds were dominated by bushfires – photos, stories, and fundraisers to raise awareness and funds for recovery.
These images of firefighters and koalas inspired grief, which soon turned to blame – directed at our politicians. As much as this sadness and rage may feel like it was a lifetime ago, especially to many of us who might be geographically or personally detached from the bushfires and those affected by them, many Australian communities aren’t able to so quickly forget.
In January, I was lucky enough to visit the rural town of Braidwood, which was severely impacted by the recent bushfire season. I stayed there for almost a week, much of this time was spent helping with the recovery effort through spreading food and water for local wildlife. The eerie silence was occasionally broken by a single bird call, or a wallaby making its way through the area.
Life is returning to these places, yet even as the impacts of the pandemic continue to unfold, it’s important for us to remember that rural communities are still making their way out of the last crisis.