The film created in partnership by Royal Far West (RFW) and UNICEF Australia highlights RFW’s’ Bushfire Recovery Program implemented in rural and remote regions, where 2 in 5 children were personally impacted by the 2019/2020 bushfires.
Royal Far West’s award-winning Bushfire Recovery Program(1) was developed to support the wellbeing and emotional resilience of children impacted by the bushfires. It has already delivered clinical services to more than 3000 children and their caregivers, in 50 schools and preschools in NSW, since 2020.
UNICEF estimates by 2050, with a projected 2.4 degrees of warming:
- Every child in Australia will be subject to more than 4.5 heatwaves a year
- Up to 2.2 million Australian children could be living in areas where heatwaves will last longer than 4.7 days
- 10% of Australian children could be living in areas where severe heatwave events will occur
Jacqueline Emery, Chief Executive of RFW, said “This is vital work whilst Australia contributes to decisive global action to reduce emissions. To partner with UNICEF Australia and provide an opportunity for the children, families and educators to share their perspective on the impact of disasters and what has helped in their recovery on a global stage has been a remarkable opportunity for RFW. We are incredibly thankful to all who gave their time to the project, and we were especially privileged to hear the wise words of the children”.
Ms Emery said, “Every day, the team witnesses the devastating impact on children from the climate related disasters of fires and floods. The children, their families and communities have experienced compounding disasters of increasing frequency and severity, and this is exacerbating existing vulnerabilities of children living in remote areas of Australia”.
She explains, “We hear the tragic stories of repeated evacuations, destroyed homes and valued possessions, the disruption of missed learning, the damage to the natural environment and recreation spaces, family financial stress and the loss of supportive social networks, and we see how children’s recovery following disaster can take months and sometimes years”.
Royal Far West is calling on the Government to support long term sustainable funding to ensure children with more complex adverse reactions get the ongoing support they need.
Nicole Breeze, UNICEF Australia’s Chief Advocate for Children said climate change is changing childhoods, and children are not responsible for this crisis, but they are bearing the brunt of it.
“As well as fulfilling international climate agreements, UNICEF Australia is asking the Government to prioritise children and young people in disaster preparedness, response and recovery, by considering their unique needs during and after emergencies, and consider to what extent current disaster frameworks at local, state and federal levels are child sensitive. This will ensure children and young people are better equipped to manage through disasters like bushfires and will receive the supports they need in recovery,” Ms Breeze said.
Read more about the impact of our Bushfire Recovery Program
The Bushfire Recovery Program is part of Royal Far West’s Community Recovery program and received grant funding from the New South Wales and Australian Government.
(1) Winner of the ‘Suncorp Resilient Australia’ and ‘National Community Awards’ for our Bushfire Recovery Program in 2021. Three-time Australian Charity Award ‘Outstanding Achievement Winner’, most recently in 2022 for our Bushfire Recovery Program
“Children are at the forefront of climate change”
Royal Far West and UNICEF teamed up to show the impact of bushfires on country kids with this powerful short film of the 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires
Compelling New Data – Bushfire Recovery Program Evaluation Findings
Evaluation of New findings published by Royal Far West’s Bushfire Recovery Program finds:
- significant improvement in mental health for country kids affected by bushfires after participating in the Bushfire Recovery the Program.
- Vulnerable children experiencing disasters in rural and remote areas are disproportionally affected with lifelong consequences due to lack of access to allied health services and higher likelihood of having developmental vulnerabilities