Recognising role women play in disasters

Blue spaces: why time spent near water is the secret of happiness

After her mother’s sudden death, Catherine Kelly felt the call of the sea. She was in her 20s and had been working as a geographer in London away from her native Ireland. She spent a year in Dublin with her family, then accepted an academic position on the west coast, near Westport in County Mayo. “I thought: ‘I need to go and get my head cleared in this place, to be blown away by the wind and nature.’”

Kelly bought a little house in a remote area and surfed, swam and walked a three-mile-long beach twice a day. “I guess the five or six years that I spent there on the wild Atlantic coast just healed me, really.”

She didn’t understand why that might be until some years later, when she started to see scientific literature that proved what she had long felt intuitively to be true: that she felt much better by the sea. For the past eight years, Kelly has been based in Brighton, researching “outdoor wellbeing” and the therapeutic effects of nature – particularly of water.


Recognising role women play in disasters

women in disasters
Recognising the breadth and depth of the roles women can play in disasters, often unspoken and hidden from public view

Black Sunday, occurred in the Adelaide Hills on January 2, 1955. My father was nine years old. While my grandfather was out fighting the fires, the house in the bush where my father lived with his three siblings came under attack. It was my grandmother who played the most important role that day. As the fire approached, she grabbed her four children all under 10, and jumped into the dam as the fire passed over.

Two firefighters lost their lives in the fires, and damage, spread over at least 40,000 hectares, was estimated at $4,000,000…


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