In a 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission public consultation, Rhonda Abotomey raised her survivor’s voice imploring the Commissioners to approach the inquiry as Ambassadors for Common: -for common sense, common decency, compassion, communication and community.
As part of Rhonda’s trauma response to losing three family members in the bushfires, she has become a passionate advocate for improved trauma preparedness and recovery. She was a Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission witness, member of the VBRRA Bushfire Bereaved Advisory Group (BBAG) and co-author of the BBAG legacy document.
In 2012, while continuing to navigate Black Saturday’s aftermath, Rhonda first heard the term Post-Traumatic Growth – it was a defining ‘light-bulb’ moment. In 2013 she partnered with a team of University of Melbourne researchers on a project titled Reconceptualising and supporting disaster recovery as growth: Informed by people affected by the Victorian 2009 ‘Black Saturday’ Bushfires.