Eager to make a positive difference despite his dysfunctional upbringing, Joc joined the fire brigade at just 14 years of age.
Joc served in the NSW Fire Brigade for 22 years, but even his experience as a crew leader in the specialised division, could not prepare Joc for the horrors of the Canberra Fires in 2003.
After days of fighting the erratic fires in the Brindabella Valley, Joc was sent home for a few hours rest. His rest was interrupted when he received an urgent call to say the ‘fires are coming!’ and they had just one hour to get people out.
Joc worked to frantically evacuate families in the suburb of Duffy but fires overcame the suburb in just 20 minutes.
“The fires were 150 – 200 foot going over the top of us. There were gas cylinders exploding. The kids were screaming. It was horrific” recalls Joc.
Joc and his team weren’t able to evacuate everybody and tragically, the people left behind lost their lives.
The trauma of the Canberra Fires haunted Joc and led to his diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and seasons of severe depression.
Joc found it difficult to complete day-to-day activities such as cleaning his home and he had a fall in his bathroom that left him trapped for three hours.
“I realised I couldn’t do this anymore,” says Joc who then contacted Anglicare for help.
Joc now receives support from an Anglicare case worker through the NDIS.
“I was so isolated [but] when Anglicare came into my life they got me out and about and I was able to do things that I hadn’t done in a very long time.”
The recent ‘Black Summer’ bushfires on the NSW South Coast threatened Joc’s home in Bateman’s Bay but he praised the team at Anglicare for doing so much to support him through the distressing time.
When asked how Joc was supported by Anglicare during the recent fires,
he said “Words can’t describe it. What they’ve done for me. They checked in with me several times a day, and would visit me at least once a day just to make sure I was okay.”
“[Anglicare] go over and above. They think they’re just carers but they’re everything. They’re a shoulder to cry on. They listen… I can’t explain the lengths they went to for me,” says Joc.
Joc and his case worker, Darryl, have developed a great friendship through their mutual love for music, and having ‘jam sessions’ together has been a huge comfort to Joc.