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23 March 2022
Governor-General of Australia, General David Hurley (left) and his wife, Mrs Linda Hurley (right), spoke to East Gippsland bushfire survivor Tanyia Becker (centre) about the support she has received from The Salvation Army.
Salvos help Tanyia move forward in life
Lea Davis is a Salvos bushfire outreach worker who has been working closely with Tanyia Becker after she lost her husband in the Black Summer bushfires on New Year’s Day 2020. Tanyia’s husband, Freddy, bravely fought to save their home, still standing proudly today.
Lea said Tanyia’s situation is different to her regular caseload. “Other people grieve for their loss of possessions, like their home or a business,” Lea said. “Tanyia is grieving the loss of her soulmate.”
Lea connected Tanyia to a grant that assisted in funding her husband’s funeral costs and she is currently working with Tanyia on a second grant to fund outstanding bills and equipment to manage her three-acre (1.2 hectares) property in Genoa, East Gippsland.
While these grants will make a huge difference in helping Tanyia get back to her simple but cherished off-the-grid lifestyle that she shared with Freddy for 24 years, Tanyia is currently needing assistance in navigating the legal system; a situation she never thought she would have to face.
Today, Lea is helping Tanyia by explaining proceedings in a language she can relate to and connecting Tanyia to rural counselling services. Lea also works collaboratively with Tanyia’s local community health service case manager.
Lea said The Salvation Army is supporting Tanyia at a time when she is emotionally drained and traumatised, having recently experienced the anniversary of her husband’s passing.
“Tanyia and I talked about how the Salvos could help her moving forward into a ‘new normal’ without her husband,” Lea said. “But The Salvation Army is supporting Tanyia at a time when she is emotionally drained and traumatised, having recently experienced the anniversary of her husband’s passing.
“Tanyia and I talked about how the Salvos could help her moving forward into a ‘new normal’ without her husband,” Lea said. “But the legal issues Tanyia is dealing with today are stopping her from moving on.”
Lea previously worked with Salvos Legal, and as a qualified social worker, Lea not only connected Tanyia to much-needed grants, but has also counselled Tanyia and helped look after her well-being.
“Tanyia has handled her situation exceptionally well, but when a person goes through something like this and is able to handle it well, they can crash at the end,” Lea said.
Working closely with clients to support them practically and emotionally can be overwhelming during a disaster of this scale. Having also worked as a case worker with Uniting Care during the Black Saturday bushfires over a decade ago, Lea recalls managing her own wellbeing through strategies learned over a number of years to ensure vicarious trauma does not become an issue.
“I try not to get too emotionally involved, but that can sometimes be hard because you go into this type of work to assist people,” Lea said. “I’m really happy with the supervision offered by The Salvation Army as we move through the Disaster Recovery, as it makes a huge difference to have the ability to discuss various scenarios and hypotheses with someone who is able to shed some light on the complexities within certain cases.”
As Tanyia’s legal proceedings continue, Lea is there to help ensure that no matter the outcome, Tanyia can move forward to live the life that her husband fought so hard for her to have.