Psychological Impacts

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.

Study Team                                                       

The Psychological Impacts research stream is led by Dr Matthew Carroll who is based at the Monash Rural Health site at Churchill in the Latrobe Valley. Professor Darryl Maybery from the Monash Rural Health site at Warragul and Dr Emily Berger from the Monash Faculty of Education in Clayton work closely with Dr Carroll on all aspects of the study. Mr Tim Campbell is the stream Research Assistant based at Churchill. Professor Sandy McFarlane from the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies at the University of Adelaide provides high level advice to the stream and regularly participates in research activity.

Study Findings                                                  

November 2018 - Research Summary - Adult Psychological outcomes following the Hazelwood mine fire: A mixed methods study
September 2018 – Research Summary – Children’s perspectives on the impact of the Hazelwood mine fire and subsequent smoke event
August 2018   – Research Summary – Interviews with Morwell residents about their experiences of the Hazelwood coal mine fire

Latest News                                                

29 June 2017 – Key findings on the psychological impacts of the mine fire on students released


Maybery, D., Jones, R., Carroll, M., Dipnall, J., Berger, E., Campbell, T. C. H., & McFarlane, A. (2019). Psychological outcomes following the Hazelwood mine fire: A mixed methods study.

Jones, R., Lee, S., Maybery, D., and McFarlane, (2018) “Experiences of a prolonged coal-mine fire”, Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal,
A public copy of this report is available at