Our guest speakers on Monday were Norman Bay and Pam Brown from the Rotary Club of Melbourne. They gave an excellent but very thought provoking presentation on the difficult subject of Trauma recovery (“Healing the heart from Disaster to Recovery”). This subject was even more pertinent and relevant in current COVID environment and post bushfire - so easy for our club and members to relate due to our involvement with Gippsland and Bairnsdale communities in particular.
Norman first joined Rotary in Hong Kong in 1984, moved to Australia seven years later and has been a very active and highly respected Rotarian at East Sydney, Balwyn and now Melbourne clubs. He is founder and Chair of the Rotary Action Group for Family Safety, working very effectively with professionals and specialist partner organizations to create awareness and support in the huge and growing issue of family violence.  Pam is a clinical psychologist who originally joined Rotary with the fantastic Hall Club in ACT before moving to Melbourne and joining Rotary Club of Melbourne in 2015. She has been on Norman’s RAG for some years and is currently Vice President Elect at Melbourne.
Pam presented statistics and trauma related information sourced from Trauma Recovery Network Australia. Historically, data and case studies have been compiled from major trauma events including WW1 where it was known as “shell shock”, WW2 where it was described as “battle fatigue”, and is generally today known as PTSD (Post Trauma Stress Disorder). Typical symptoms include flashbacks, intrusive memories and regular nightmares leading to withdrawal, avoiding people and social events, feeling irritable, jumpy, anxious and shut down. There is significant research data available from the Diagnostic Statistics Manuel but Pam explained that memories occur when brain neurons connect and she showed images of EMDR brainscans as part of a comprehensive medical explanation and illustration.
According to Pam, many people (probably most people) have memories of a trauma from early or late childhood (or in adulthood such as first responders to accidents, health crises or of course bushfire fighters}. Statistics and medical records show that four or more such trauma memories may lead to substance abuse or depression. Six or more may tragically lead to suicide or mental illness.
The pleasing news is that many people recover from traumatic experience and Trauma Recovery Network Australia has programs to treat and cure PTSD. They have 18 Therapists at Foundation House in Brunswick and provide discussion sessions, workshops, ongoing treatment to assist people with this condition. This includes currently many people in rural communities post bushfires and frontline health professionals during the current COVID crisis in Victoria.
Ted Waghorne has played a leading role for our Canterbury Club in this area and can pass on contact information for Pam and Norman if members would like to discuss private circumstances.
We thank Norman and Pam for a particularly important and relevant presentation  of  this very heartfelt and real world contemporary issue in our community.