Kathy Overton – Story Listening, Story Telling: Working with bushfire affected communities while working in bushfire affected organisations

Working with communities affected by bushfire or other disasters requires empathy, compassion vulnerability, energy and persistence. Fundamental to building relationships and trust in these communities is conversation and storytelling.

Using story with the intention of supporting recovery and building resilience, as well as enabling learning, greater connectedness and supporting new or stronger relationships, outcomes that can be unpredictable, unexpected, yet very powerful, occur.

When effectively used and in a safe space, conversations and story can be healing, cathartic and contribute to feelings of connection and being valued by others. With the ability to listen for stories and having skills in enabling the telling of the stories, a powerful process that empowers people and communities emerges. As a foremost priority of community-based bushfire work and with examples from fire affected Victorian communities, we discuss some of the powerful outcomes achieved through this way of working.

Working with communities about bushfire, especially when an organisation has also been impacted, requires a strong focus on well being of both workers and community members. Central to this is open and honest conversation, the ability to listen and story telling.

About Kathy Overton:

Kathy Overton is a Community Based Bushfire Management Officer with the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) in the Port Phillip Region. She has many years’ experience as a Science teacher in NSW and Victorian schools, with particular interest in the natural world. She has also had extensive experience in environmental and bushfire community and school education, working as an education officer at the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne, at DELWP, Sustainability Victoria, CFA and in her own consultancy business. In recent years, her work focus is working with communities to better understand bushfire risk and what it takes to better prepare for, respond to and recover from bushfires.

| May 12th, 2019 | Posted in Uncategorized |

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