An update to our bushfire response.
Over the past few weeks, our team of psychologists and social workers have been visiting bushfire affected communities in the South Coast and Wytaliba, near Glen Innes. Reports indicate the greatest need for trauma based mental health services will most likely not be for at least six months. Our CEO Lindsay Cane AM said this timing was in line with previous bushfire events like Black Sunday and was also backed up by international research and world’s best practice models.
“Royal Far West specialist social workers have been talking and visiting with communities on the South Coast over the past few weeks, about what is needed now and into the future. It is extremely critical to support children who have experienced extreme trauma from seeing the fires close up; who may have a deep fear of losing parents; loss of homes and their schools and their normal safe environments. This problem will haunt many communities, families and kids for years to come.
“Local and overseas experience shows that families and children require short term help with things like housing, finance and insurance, and that mental health needs become more prevalent further down the track,” Lindsay said.
320 families, who are clients of Royal Far West, have been affected by the recent bushfires.
Lindsay said Royal Far West has been working with the NSW Department of Education and provided psychologists for schools in the area to coincide with the start of term. We are also working with UNICEF Australia to map out a localised program of longer term support, particularly aimed at bushfire areas, based on world’s best practice methods.
The specialist Bushfire Recovery program offered will include:
-Educating the community about emotional and behavioural difficulties that may indicate if more ongoing, specialist support is required. We will also help parents link to this support.
-Offering a specialised Telecare component to provide the additional psychology support that some children will need over time. This will include 50 children over two terms, starting next term, and is based upon international and Australian best-practice trauma recovery models.
-Offering a recreational option with therapeutic group activities or camps available as needed. Available either in community or onsite in Manly. Royal Far West’s Healthy Kids Bus Stop will also be in Moruya from 2-6 March.