Jasmin Newman

About Jasmin Newman

Jasmin Newman is an experienced relationships coach, educator and course director of Parenting After Separation. She is passionate about creating a new, less adversarial paradigm around how parents navigate the difficult separation and divorce process. She is the author of The Child Snatchers (http://thechildsnatchers.com) – a crucial read on the complex nature of parent-child abductions and Australian Family Law.

With my town set to burn, I hope the Australian spirit will prevail

This summer has been something yet seen, but our spirit has dragged us through hardship before, and I hope it will again.

 

 

My routine every New Year’s Day is to rise with the sun and enter the ocean for a swim. It is my way of showing gratitude for this beautiful environment we live in, and the intention to immerse myself in it in the year to come.

But the concept of a ‘happy’ new year has been lost on many of us this year, particularly in Eastern Australia. I feel a deep sadness within as I grapple with the overwhelming urge to cry. Our country is on fire.

My beautiful South Coast home has already borne the brunt of the fierce and fires but there is worse predicted to come. Tourists have been ordered to evacuate. Locals who aren’t prepared need to take refuge in one of two evacuation centres. Many local businesses will not survive the inevitable economic loss, should they survive the fire.

In Cobargo, Mogo, and Mallacoota, many businesses have faced this situation, and many have been razed.

If they can find the strength, they might rebuild. But sadly, the character of the local cottages made from rustic timbers and handmade led light windows have all gone. After all, you can’t rebuild history. Seven in our community have lost their lives, hundreds have lost homes and livelihoods; all of us feel a deep sense of despair.

I keep wondering when my Australian spirit will kick in. At what point will we be able to reflect on this time and say “yeah, remember that awful summer of 2020?”, but right now, it seems like it will never end.

I know there will be a time when we’re also saying that “we’ve been through worse” or “we got through that, we will get through this too”. Bitterly, I know this because I know we will be forced to endure something worse.

I can’t wait for that time in between, where life feels normal. Moments of happy, sun-filled, beach days. Those that are smoke-free, and don’t threaten us with ember attacks, spot fires or lightning strikes.

 

I remember all those times. I remember the mateship. I remember the lamington drives and telethons; above all, the love we have for those next door.

 

Days that the most burning we fear is where we forgot to apply sunscreen. Days when our landscape is something to enjoy, not fear. Those days will come again. I know it.

For now, I face daily exhaustion. Fatigue brought on by excessive worry, the daily ritual of checking-in with family in the line of fire and loudly wondering how much worse it can get.

I am glued to updates and news sources. The RFS. The local council. Live Traffic. Local radio. “It’s been 12 minutes since an update, I wonder what’s happening now?”

The tension is relentless.

What I don’t need to read is trite responses from the Government telling me as an Australian, I can celebrate the fireworks, watch the cricket, and look for hope in the future.

Right now, what I want are answers. I want to know why funding for the RFS was cut, and why we don’t have more fire fighting aircraft.

I also don’t need the rhetoric from keyboard warriors, The Nicks from Newtown and the Bevs of Bondi dismissing those who lost homes, saying that they knew the risks.

I also wonder what it would be like to be ‘Scotty from Marketing’ blundering my way through the next annoying press conference, and feeling like I need to wash after shaking hands with frontline firefighters.

 

 

I wonder how many of the satirical headlines he creates will form his entire legacy. What I do know is that I desperately want my resilient Australian spirit to kick in. I want it back…and it isn’t coming from Scotty’s pathetic motivational attempts.

So I search for happier memories and think back on a lifetime of us facing adverse weather in this country. I remember all the floods, the cyclones, heatwaves, and fires of years extinguished. I remember when we rescued and retrieved yachties from deadly ocean storms, farmers trapped by floods and saved those shrouded in ash and smoke from notorious days in the calendar, Ash Wednesday and Black Saturday.

I remember all those times. I remember the mateship. I remember the lamington drives and telethons; above all, the love we have for those next door.

I want this to be over so we can sit on the deck and reflect. So we can go camping and be concerned with mozzie bites and goannas raiding the food storage, or what we will do on Sunday because it’s forecast to rain.

When we get there, we need to reflect for a moment on where we have come from and how many shitty politicians we had to sit through then too.

Despite them, we have always been a nation whose resilience leads with mateship and volunteerism and thrives on community spirit.

And there it is. The Australian fighting spirit.

Up yours, Scotty. We’ve got this in spite of you, not because of you.

 

 

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