As the Latrobe Valley community waits for the findings of the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry, the state’s leading emergency psychologist has spoken about how to deal with the uncertainty.
Dr Rob Gordon urged the public to “let things take their course”.
“The problem is when you feel threatened and uncertain, you feel you want to remove the threat and that’s always leading to a tendency to create a false certainty,” Dr Gordon said.
“There is a tendency to go for the bad news just to make it clear. The hardest thing for us to deal with is uncertainty.”
Dr Gordon said often people needed support during the waiting period and this meant talking with friends and family and engaging with community organisations.
“Then, when the information comes through, they’ll be able to do something with it,” he said.
“Otherwise, people become very much more emotional and often angry and anxious.”
Dr Gordon said anger was a natural reaction which helped people fight for their own survival.
“But when it turns over to unproductive aggression, it’s very hard to keep a channel on where it should go,” he said.
Dr Gordon said in order to prevent anger affecting day-to-day life, residents should focus on tasks unrelated to the fire and take time to relax.
The Board of Inquiry has until the end of August to hand down its findings and recommendations to government, following the conclusion of public hearings on 18 June.
Dr Gordon is a consultant psychologist to the Victorian Department of Human Services and the Red Cross for emergency recovery.
If you are struggling to cope, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.