• Sonia Ghiggioli

The Perfect Storm...

Today I was asked to give an interview for a Brisbane based news channel about the impact of the fires in Agnes Water and the Baffle Creek Region on us. It got me thinking about all of the natural disasters I have been exposed to, and how they they seem to be more widespread and more frequent these days.

Fire Front to the South of Agnes Water - Courtesy of Kirsten Potter

In fact, according to The World Today, experts believe bushfires are increasing in frequency and intensity.

"In research published in Nature Ecology and Evolution today, Professor David Bowman says climate change will increase the risk of wildfires by 20 to 50 percent. He says people who live near the bush in cities and regional areas in Australia need to expect their houses will burn down."

My first experience with bush fires was back in 1994 when, coincidentally I was travelling south from a Christmas holiday trip from our property in Baffle Creek. We were heading home to the Illawarra and were caught on the highway by a fire north of Sydney and a roadblock backed up for miles. There were no alerts, no mobile phones and so we spent that hot January night sleeping in the back of the Mitsubishi van at the servo. When we were told the roadblock could be two or three more days, we chose to travel east to a resort until we got the all clear to travel through the Shire and south to the Illawarra. You can read more about the 1994 fires here: Shire Fire Horror Still Lingers 20 Years On

In the Organic Vineyard - Community Wine Project 2013

I am no longer a resident of Agnes Water on the Discovery Coast of QLD, an hour an a half north of Bundaberg. It has been quite a few weeks since we embarked on our travels and we have since settled into the Capricornia Region. I do however maintain an interest in the area, as it is the current handover place for our most gorgeous youngest family member each fortnight.

When I was alerted of the out-of-control bushfire on Saturday, I contacted her guardian to check on her safety. Normally no news means good news, but not in this case. No news purely meant a refusal to communicate about our child's safety.

Having nursed at a young age, and lived on farms and through fire, floods and drought I am generally not a person to panic in any emergency situation. I can stem the flow of blood, sew you up if need be or clean the blowflies out of a cavity in a live chook. I am usually not queasy, and find quick effective solutions to problems. There is one thing that gets me though, I don't do vomit so well.

In this instance I realised that the safety of my child wasn't the only issue, I was now dealing with a person in a position of power and control. I alerted the support services and was given advice on how to deal with the impending evacuation of Agnes Water and a high conflict co-parenting arrangement. I felt sick to the stomach.

There has been studies done on natural disasters and the increase of interpersonal violence that goes with them. You can read more here: The Impact of Natural Disasters on Domestic Violence...

While we as a society try to get a grip on the increase of natural disasters, we also need to be aware of the social issues that go hand in hand with them.

Smoke over Central QLD Sunday 26 Nov 2018

I was able to negotiate at the 11th hr for this darling girl to be dropped off at the Miriam Vale Evacuation Centre at midday, at the height of the severe fire weather forecast for Agnes Water. It took me over two days to negotiate this, and hours and hours of sleeplessness. My suggestion was more than sensible, but the response was "Sonia, cut the crap."

I write this blog in the hope it reaches those in authority, the very people who can make a difference. It may be as simple as asking each person who registers at an evacuation centre if they have a current DVO. If so, you'll know they are struggling with a whole lot more and need support.

I may be requested to take down this post, but I hope in the meantime just one person's life somewhere is changed for the positive.

My heart goes out to the community of Agnes Water and Baffle Creek and I truly hope you all heed the evacuation directions and remain safe.

My little family is happy, healthy and safe tonight.

Best regards,

Sonia Ghiggioli

#NaturalDisaster #DVO #Family #BushFires #ExtremeWeatherEvents #ClimateChange

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