Dominique Lamb CEO National Retail Association

This week, we’ve seen more upset for Melbourne’s Bourke St Mall, after the discovery of a suspicious package left on the makeshift memorial for the now six people murdered in the 20 January vehicle rampage.

After the hundreds of flowers, stuffed toys, cards, photos and balloons were removed on Monday to be replaced with a permanent tribute, images of the bomb squad taking over only compounded the situation for the sometimes-overlooked victims – those who work in Bourke St, and who were witness to this terrifying attack.

Finance workers, tram drivers, hospitality workers, corporates, and of course, the hundreds of retailers who are trying to return to some sense of normality, have again felt a sense of panic, urgency and fear, while still trying to deal with the shock, disbelief and sadness that something like this could happen right in front of them.

Our members in Melbourne are telling us they feel it will be a very long time before their businesses and their staff return to a sense of normality – and unfortunately, this emotional and financial toll is naturally only compounded by the endless news coverage, social media discussion, and of course, the physical elements they see around their workplaces, that serve as daily reminders of the trauma each has experienced.

I cannot stress enough to employers that everyone will react in different ways after an event involving such a high level of trauma, and it may be in completely unexpected ways. This was iterated further during my recent experience with the Australian Defence Force ExBoss Lift in Malaysia, where I learned so much more about the long-term and very complex manifestations of trauma in people’s day-to-day lives. Its effects on victims’ mental health can, in some cases, last a lifetime, and could need complex management for years to come.

Our senior associate, Angela Szczepanski, is an expert on managing mental health in the workplace, workers’ compensation and workplace health and safety, and is here to help any of our members who may be struggling after an incident like this.

As a proud partner of Jobfit [an Employee Assistance Provider (EAP)], we would like to extend a warm hand to any of our members to touch base on issues like these. We are here to help, and are always on hand to offer our members guidance on getting your, and your team members’, lives back to some sense of normality.

Have a great week.

Dominique Lamb