The Road to Recovery

My wife slammed the door and said:

“You need to go and see someone.”

It was almost three months to the day after our house burned when things started to fall apart.

See, the world had moved on, but we hadn’t.  

And I found the black landscape that surrounded me, crept up on me and brought up black thoughts inside my head.

It was the darkest period of my life.

And it was that time that my wife booked us both in to see a counsellor who specialised in bushfire victims.

It really helped us.

So this year has been my time to take some of my hard-earned experience and give back: I’ve been working as a not-for-profit financial counsellor in bushfire-affected regions.

As part of that effort, earlier in the year I was summoned to Canberra for a roundtable on how best to help fire victims. I happened to sit next to Anna Bligh, former Premier of Queensland, and now head of the banking lobby.

She told me that it was around the 12-week mark that depression started to set in after the Queensland floods — which matched perfectly with my own experience.

Well, we’re now approaching three months after the fires … the time when it all starts to fall apart. And, tragically, the community where I’m helping out has had its first suicide since the fires.

It’s a reminder that, while the nation has moved on to Toilet-Paper-Gate, there are plenty of people still dealing with the aftermath.

My experience told me that the media would move on quickly. But I wanted to tell the real story of recovery and what happens when the cameras stop rolling. So I kept them rolling — I had a documentary crew follow me to show the real, unglamorous reality of getting back on your feet. The Road to Recovery launches tonight on Foxtel.

I agreed to do the show for three reasons:

First, to raise awareness of the vital work that (underfunded) financial counsellors do in the community.

Second, to raise money for the Financial Counselling Foundation (I donated 100% of my time, and the network agreed to donate all advertising revenue).

And, finally, so that, even when the media world did move on, those impacted by the fires wouldn’t feel like the world had forgotten them.

I wanted to tell the story of what happens after a disaster … and what the road to recovery really looks like.

Tread Your Own Path!