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The 'Guwiinbarraan'

The 'Guwiinbarraan' Project is a collaborative initiative of PhD Candidate Kisani Upward, the MRFF Bushfires Impact Project of the University of New England and our co-researchers, the Nucoorilma Community of Tingha, NSW. 

Our aim is to AMPLIFY the voices of a community, who were and continue to be impacted by the 2019/2020 Bushfires. 

A key element of this study is to explore Solastalgia. A phenomenon felt by many, who are deeply effected by the increasing environmental changes due to Climate Change.


What is 'Solastalgia'?

Solastalgia is the creation of Professor Glenn Albrecht, an Environmental Philosopher who observed the growing distress, grief and anxiety experienced by communities of the Hunter Valley (NSW) as a result of a changing environment. This change was caused by the development of open-cut mining, which led to the degradation of the once familiar landscape.  

                                                                            This feeling was hard to put into words...

So Professor Albrecht created one, as a way of describing these deep emotions. 

"Solastalgia refers to the pain or distress caused by the loss of, or inability to derive, solace connected to the negatively perceived state of one’s home environment..." (Albrecht et al. 2007) 

"Solastalgia exists when there is the lived experience of the physical desolation of home..."

(Albrecht et al. 2007) 

Image of the 2019/20 Bushfires by Fire Watch, Australia

Black Summer Bushfires

The Black Summer Bushfires of 2019-2020, were one of Australia's worst natural disasters in written history. 

According to the NSW State of Environment (2021):

26 Lives were lost...

2,476 homes destroyed...

5.5 Million Hectares of land were burnt...

3 Billion vertebrae animals were burnt or displaced..

The impact on Aboriginal Communities...

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A submission by the NSW Aboriginal Lands Council to the NSW Bushfires Inquiry states:

"We also wish to highlight the mental health impacts on Aboriginal communities as a result the recent bushfires. This trauma has been amplified by the fact that important cultural and sacred sites, homes and livelihoods have been destroyed. Country, trees, plants and animals are intensely significant to Aboriginal people, as a conduit for connecting Traditional Custodians to their culture, country, lore and ancestors. As such, any damage to country causes an immense sense of grief. Aboriginal culture and livelihoods continue to be connected to all aspects of country, including animals and plants"

(Deputy Commissioner of NSW Police, 2020)


Albrecht, G., Sartore, G.-M., Connor, L., Higginbotham, N., Freeman, S., Kelly, B., Stain, H., Tonna, A., & Pollard, G. (2007). Solastalgia: The Distress Caused by Environmental Change. Australasian Psychiatry : Bulletin of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. 15. 95–98.

Deputy Commissioner of NSW Police (2020). Final Report of the NSW Bushfire Inquiry. Department of Premier and Cabinet. Sydney. 

Image of the 2019/20 Bushfires: Fire Watch Australia. 

NSW State of Environment (2021). Black Summer Bushfires Summery. NSW Environment Protection Authority.

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