Julia Stone has penned an emotive poem about the 2020 Black Summer bushfires in Australia, titled ‘Next to Me’.
The poem was released today in collaboration with suicide prevention service Lifeline, bringing attention to the ongoing mental health impacts of the crisis. The organisation still receives 400 calls a day to its dedicated Bushfire Recovery Helpline.
“There’s nowhere to hide from that time or this place,” writes Stone in the poem. “And the world moved on ’cause it had to / There’s more to fear than what happened here.”
Listen to Stone recite the poem alongside striking MRI visuals below:
Stone, who trained as a mental health counsellor and volunteers as a hotline support worker, explained in a statement that she wanted to draw attention to the continued impact of the bushfires, a year on.
“I want to highlight that it’s important we don’t forget about those who have been physically and mentally affected by the Black Summer bushfires, even though the world has moved on as we grapple with the effects of a global pandemic.”
The poem was also released in partnership with NRMA Insurance, which, along with RACV, has donated $2million to Lifeline to help provide video counselling support and community resilience training in bushfire-affected areas.
“The crisis may be over, but the enormity of the recovery is ongoing. Many people won’t experience trauma for months, even years to come and Lifeline will be there for them 24/7,” commented Lifeline Australia chairman John Brogden.
“Julia Stone’s heartfelt poem will help people know that they do not need to suffer in silence. NRMA Insurance and RACV’s generous donation will enable us to extend our essential services for those mentally struggling from the Black Summer bushfires and other natural disasters including floods and COVID-19.”
Lifeline provides support to anyone in Australia who is experiencing thoughts of suicide or caring for someone experiencing thoughts of suicide. The service is available anytime via phone, text or online. The Bushfire Recovery Line can be accessed at 13HELP (13 43 57).
FOR HELP AND ADVICE ON MENTAL HEALTH:
- Lifeline – Crisis support and suicide prevention services
- SANE Australia – National mental health charity supporting Australians affected by complex mental illness
- Black Dog Institute – Putting health in mind
- Mental Health Australia – Mentally healthy people, mentally healthy communities
- Headspace Australia – National Youth Mental Health Foundation
- Support Act – The heart & hand of Australian music