Bushfire Recovery Program

Supporting children, families and schools in communities affected by the 2019-20 bushfires.

When loss, change or disasters happen, children can be impacted in different ways, and it is important they are provided with the right support. The Bushfire Recovery team – consisting of social workers, psychologists, occupational therapists, and speech pathologists – works alongside preschools and primary schools to provide this support.

How we support:

The program provides support for children aged 0-12yrs, and the adults around these children, to improve resilience and wellbeing and decrease the likelihood of long-term adverse impacts. Each community has unique needs. For this reason, the program offers a menu of options, allowing the participating school/preschool/community to select the services that best meet their needs.

These options include, but are not limited to, those detailed below. 

Children’s groups in primary schools and preschools

Offering and outcomes:

  • Delivered by health clinicians, the groups can help children who have experienced grief and loss – this could be following a disaster or other life changes.
  • The team is trained in disaster support children’s programs (Stormbirds and Birdie’s Tree resources) as well as Seasons for Growth.
  • An evaluation of the Program in 2021 has shown that 89% of children agreed they learnt “good ways to cope with [my] feelings”.

Educator support

Offering and outcomes:

  • With access to a Speech Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, Psychologist or Social Worker, a variety of support can be offered to Educators. This can include topics such as: Supporting the School following Community Trauma, Supporting regulation for students in the classroom and Educator Wellbeing & Selfcare.
  • Educators participating in the program report increased confidence to identify and respond to signs of psychological distress in children.

Parent and carer support

Offering and outcomes:

  • Group and/or individual sessions, focusing on covering both parental wellbeing and how parents can support their child.
  • Parenting support is based on the Tuning in to Kids® Program, and gives parents the option of joining an online group. Download our Tuning  in to Kids® Brochure to find out more.
  • 100% of parents noted they left the sessions with a better understanding of the importance of their own wellbeing to help support their child.

Telecare therapy

Offering and outcomes:

  • For those children who might need extra support, the program can provide Telecare therapy based on the area of need – speech pathology, psychology or occupational therapy.
  • Our clinicians are skilled in identifying the needs of children and what therapy could best assist them.
  • Parents have said the therapy has provided their child with strategies to cope with change and difficult life events such as bushfires.

Program delivery

At the heart of the program are in-community visits so support can be delivered face-to-face in schools and preschools. However, the support extends far beyond these visits, with telehealth services used to provide ongoing therapy to children as well as support to parents/educators.

Funding arrangements in place as of March 2022 will see the program assist more than 40 communities, across 10 Local Government Areas, by mid 2024 in areas including: 

bushfire recovery program map


Community led recovery

We were proud to receive the NSW and National Resilient Australia Community Awards in 2021 for the Bushfire Recovery Program.

Program development involved close consultation with local communities, including parents and carers, schools and preschools, councils, government and non-government organisations, health and social service professionals, Aboriginal services and leaders, and community volunteers. It is based on world best-practice community trauma recovery principles, adapted and refined to suit very specific local needs.

Find out more

If you are a local service provider interested in finding out more about the Bushfire Recovery Program and how it can work in collaboration with local services, we would love to hear from you.

Please fill in the form and one of our team will be in contact.

Bushfire Recovery Program Enquiry

Form that appears on the Bushfire Recovery Program page on the Royal Far West website

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Funded by the Australian and NSW Governments

This Program is funded by the Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Fund, the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund and the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants Program through the joint Commonwealth/State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements. Although funding for this Program has been provided by both the Australian and NSW Governments, the material contained herein does not necessarily represent the views of either government.