The recent flood crisis across parts of eastern Australia is adding further weight to calls for child-focused considerations to be built into long-term disaster recovery strategies for Australia.
A new report, After the Disaster – Recovery for Australia’s Children, collaboratively produced by Royal Far West, UNICEF Australia, and an independent disaster resilience expert, has found young children’s longer-term emotional needs are often forgotten following bushfires, floods and other emergencies, despite being particularly susceptible to the impacts of such disasters.
The report recommends an urgent review across federal, state and territory governments of the relevant policies and frameworks guiding disaster planning and response and recovery efforts to ensure the specific needs of children are identified and addressed.
Other key recommendations include:
-Funding more mental health and resilience-building programs in rural and remote communities aimed at children aged 0-12
-Funding research (in collaboration with service providers) to understand the needs and ‘voice’ of children and young people, and the interventions and responses that best support them, particularly those affected by trauma and disadvantage
-Increased education for communities, in particular the key adults around the children, about the impact of disasters and what supports they most need
-Establishing a panel of preferred providers that are ‘fit for purpose’ to respond quickly in the event of a natural disaster or emergency event that can provide relief and long-term recovery programs for children.
UNICEF Australia and RFW formed a partnership in early 2020, creating and delivering a comprehensive Bushfire Recovery Program in the wake of the 2019-20 Black Summer fires, and the report draws extensively upon this experience. The Program provides a psychosocial and learning program for children within 35 bushfire affected communities across New South Wales.
Read our After the Disaster – Recovery for Australia’s Children report.
Learn more about the RFW Bushfire Recovery Program.
Watch our Bushfire Recovery TFN presentation.