The aim of the psychology research stream is to determine whether exposure to smoke from the Hazelwood coal mine fire is associated with psychological trauma and distress. Given the study began more than a year after the smoke event, it is also important to examine recovery and resilience. The psychology research stream is targeting both adults and school-aged children.
The Adult Survey that has been completed by more than 4,000 adults in Morwell and Sale included an assessment of the impact of the mine fire event, level of distress, as well as previous exposure to traumatic situations. This information is now being used to identify a group of people from the two communities to follow up over the length of the study, through further surveys and interviews which will enable the researchers to determine how well people are recovering. In the first instance, we are intending to conduct a series of interviews with Morwell residents in the coming months to explore in detail their experiences of the fire, and any impacts on their mental health at the time and since then.
The Schools Study examining the psychological impacts on school-aged children is already underway, with more information available here.