‘Nye on the River of Life’ Book and Video (Bega Valley Shire)

Rebus Theatre’s Project Alchemy presents:

‘Nye on the River of Life’ the video

A new resource to help explaining what happens in the brain with Trauma.

Following on from the successful book launch in November last year Sue Norman has produced a video version of “Nye on the River of Life” which has now been placed online right here on the Rebus website to allow people to access this useful resource as needed anytime, anywhere.

Like many of us Sue Norman and Colleen Weir experienced the trauma of the “Black Summer” bushfires on the far south coast. The local artist and counsellor have teamed together to create a clear, simple way for people to learn about trauma. These presentations have been offered to volunteer and professional groups working with people struggling with survival after the fires.

The pair also prepared a picture book called “Nye on the River of Life” to help people to learn and teach the process of recovery.

There are as many different stories about the bushfire as people caught up in it. The experience was so widespread many people have been unable to access the professional support they need.

Recent events have caused people to be triggered by smells, sounds and sights to remember and experience the trauma again. Parents and teachers are now seeing young children express their fears as we experience another bushfire season.

In early 2020 Colleen was visiting her family on the coast when she had to leave in the huge convoy of people driving through smoke and flames to Canberra. Sue’s small community suffered the loss of forty homes and many more outbuildings. The forest and wildlife surrounding her home was devastated.

Realising there was a desperate need for help Colleen came back to the area to work as a trauma counsellor and they met when Sue attended as a client.

“It was about eighteen months after the fire and I guess the adrenaline had worn off,” said Sue. “Colleen was able to explain what was happening in my brain and I was relieved to hear it was a natural response and that I was able to recover.”

Basically, the counselling recognises that negative thought patterns can arise from stresses and responses in the body and so need physical techniques to help heal. These can involve regulated breathing, observing the senses and holding yourself securely to calm the mind and allow the rational brain to be heard.

Clients are invited to locate their emotions within and outside their window of tolerance; naming them and learning to look at their emotions not through them.

Important to this process is an understanding of the basic physiology of the brain.

This gives an explanation of behaviour and feelings that can relieve the shame of being labelled unstable, neurotic or just mad. Neuroscience also shows that these patterns can be changed and recovery from the effects of trauma is possible. 

At the end of 2022 Sue was selected as an artist participating in Project Alchemy, a bushfire recovery initiative of the Canberra-based Rebus Theatre. This project provides support for fifteen artists from five shires affected by the fires to develop creative recovery programs in their communities. 

As part of her project Sue teamed with Colleen to create the Buffer Project presenting simple-to-understand explanations of understanding trauma and the brain. The resulting book was launched as part of the Festival of Daring Possibilities in the Bega Valley on the 11th and 12th of November 2023.

Project Alchemy is made possible thanks to funding from the Australian Government for the Black Summer Bushfire Grant Program. Rebus is also supported by Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres and the ACT Government. More about Rebus here: https://rebustheatre.com/More about Project Alchemy here: https://rebustheatre.com/projectalchemy/

Two women look at the camera, one with short grey hair wearing a red shirt and the other with shoulder length blonde/grey hair wearing a green shirt
A woman in a yellow hadt and red shirt stares into the distance with a background of burnt land and trees
Two women look at the camera, one with short grey hair wearing a blue shirt and the other with shoulder length blonde/grey hair wearing a brown shirt and a creme scarf
A Social Tile advertising an evetn called 'Radical Hope In The Garden' with an cartoon image of pink and blue flowers on a yellow background.