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Royal Far West and Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch Foundation launch Resilient Kids Toolkit

Royal Far West, with support from the Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch Foundation, launches a free, evidence-based toolkit to help children emotionally impacted by natural disasters.

Developed by RFW’s highly trained paediatric and community trauma team, the toolkit will be distributed to 4,000 families across NSW, providing simple and effective ways for parents to support their children through connection, communication and play.

The toolkit has been made possible by the financial support of the Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch Foundation.

RFW CEO Jacqueline Emery said experiencing a traumatic event like a bushfire or flood can have a devasting long-term impact on a child’s mental health, emotional wellbeing, learning and development.

“The impact is heightened if children are not provided with the right support to process what they have been through in the months and years after the disaster event. Recovery takes time.

“For children in rural and remote areas – where most of the impacts of natural disasters are felt – the trauma is compounded by difficulty in accessing the vital health and wellbeing services and support they need. While access to services is key, building the capacity of parents with effective tools and information, like the Resilient Kids Toolkit, can make a critical difference.”

“We’ve harnessed our clinical expertise and on-the-ground experience to develop an easy-to-use tool that helps families build the resilience of their children and their family before, during and after major events. Thanks to the Sarah & Lachlan Murdoch Foundation, this toolkit will help many of the communities most severely hit by bushfires and floods,” Ms Emery said.

Sarah Murdoch said that she and Lachlan were humbled to be able to continue to help parents and children whose lives have been devastated by recent disasters.

Ms Murdoch said the couple were motivated to support the toolkit after seeing RFW research that shows children are particularly susceptible to mental health issues following disasters or emergencies, resulting in poorer educational outcomes and a loss of a sense of stability and safety.

What really stood out for me is that the impacts may not show up for months or even years after the event, often remaining hidden. Parents who are already struggling with rebuilding their lives face the additional worries of how to help their children. My hope is that parents will now have a toolkit to help them identify signs in their own children earlier with practical ways to talk with them, so they can get the support they need as soon as possible.

Sarah Murdoch
Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch Foundation

With Australia facing compounding natural disasters in recent years, RFW identified the need to provide support to children impacted by disasters, as well as the need to prepare children and families for future disasters. The Resilient Kids Toolkit helps support the emotional preparedness of children to recover from traumatic events and build their resilience for future events.

While the toolkit was developed with the increasing impact of natural disasters in mind, it also provides practical information and tips that are applicable to support a child through any major life event such as changing school or losing a loved one.

RFW’s work in the aftermath of the 2019 Black Summer bushfires via their award-winning Bushfire Recovery Program, alongside their expertise in supporting the developmental, behavioural and mental health of country children and building the capacity of parents and carers to support their child, provided valuable insights that helped in developing the toolkit.

Showing the content of the Relilient Kids Toolkit. A guide book, children's book, and a sensory toy.

The toolkit includes:

  • Resilient Kids Toolkit guide – a practical guide offering simple and effective tips and activities to build resilience via connection, communication and play
  • Birdie and the Fire book – a practical book where parents and/or carers can help a young child work through scary experiences and “big feelings”
  • Guide to Emerging Minds information and sources – mental health and wellbeing resources for families
  • Sensory hand toy – a therapeutic tool to calm a child’s sensory stimulation and relieve stress

One of the key benefits of the toolkit is the evidence-based ‘Resilient Kids Toolkit guide’ which is filled with a range of easy-to-follow strategies for parents and activities for kids. The kit has been designed based on RFW’s successful outcomes with thousands of children. RFW aims to help as many families as possible to develop positive relationships, strengthen mental health and build resilience and self-awareness – all of which are important foundational skills and information for any family that may face stressful events or life challenges.

The Resilient Kids Toolkit Guide is available for parents nationwide to download for free.

Download your Resilient Kids Toolkit Guide here.