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A listening ear after tragedy

If you’re around Flinders Street, look out for a Red Cross volunteer.

We’re on the scene to listen and help people cope with the aftermath of a serious vehicle collision in Melbourne.

On Thursday 21 December, an SUV collided with pedestrians on the corner of Elizabeth and Flinders Street. Twenty people were injured.

Red Cross teams joined other emergency services at the site to support people affected. They’ve remained to offer a listening ear to anyone who might want to talk.

“We’re trained in psychological first aid,” says volunteer Garry Smith. “Essentially that’s looking out for signs of distress, listening actively to each person, and then linking them to services they might need – whether that’s immediately or later down the track.”

Garry and his colleagues are also visiting shops and businesses in the area, to chat with people who may have witnessed the incident and see how they’re coping.

“Most people are just going about their daily business,” Garry says. “But they might just need to have that one little chat, and it’ll help them feel a bit better about their day.

“But sometimes people don’t realise how events like this really affect them. They’re going through the motions and not reflecting on how they’re really doing.

“When we ask the question ‘How is it affecting you?’ then they stop and think about it. And when they see we’re genuinely interested, they interact with us and ask for the help they need.”

Red Cross, Victoria Police and other social services teams are highly visible, providing a comforting presence at the site of a sudden tragedy. But they’re only a small part of the sense of community that now fills a normally busy and chaotic Melbourne thoroughfare.

“A lot of people feel more engaged to come together and have a chat with each other. And that’s something positive to take out of a bad experience.”

We recover better together. Here are some resources that can help.