We are all affected by the climate crisis. As we head into what is predicted to be a long, hot summer, it’s important to remember that many families in regional Australia are more susceptible to bushfires. This means their homes, livelihoods and places of safety are at increased risk.
The team at Royal Far West are steadfast in providing support and hope to communities in need.
As we approach this period of escalated bushfire danger, we will share some advice, activities, and strategies to help support children and their families during this time.
Plan and Prepare for a Natural Disaster
Families can prepare practically and emotionally leading up to the bushfire season to help cope with changes and recovery. Involving children in preparations can help them feel a sense of control and can help reduce their stress and anxiety. It is common for parents to be concerned that speaking with their children about the possible risk of a bushfire may make them feel scared. However, children are aware of changes in their environment and having honest, age-appropriate conversations and including them in emergency planning can help them feel more confident and safe.
There are a number of resources to support parents and caregivers have those tricky chats and include children in family bushfire preparedness.
- The Red Cross has a checklist on how to prepare children for an emergency, a “Get Ready” activity book and information sheet on how to talk to children before an emergency.
- Emerging Minds, a children’s mental health organization also has helpful information sheet on helping your child to prepare for a bushfire which includes talking to your child about bushfires, preparing a family emergency plan, and emotional preparation.
The Birdie’s Tree children’s story books help children understand their feelings and emotions around a natural disaster through the eyes of the main character Birdie. They can be read online as eBooks
Another resource that can be used is the printable workbook “Making a bushfire survival plan” Involve your kids!
Schools can reach out to the Red Cross who provide workshops for children which help them prepare for, cope, and respond in a disaster.
How to talk to your children about out-of-control fires?
Schools and educators can also play a role in education and awareness for children.
Disaster Resilience Education – Teaching resources
Cool.org – How to teach a unit on fire and flood resilience
Seek Professional Help:
It is okay to look for professional help outside of the community, particularly when feeling overwhelmed or during tough times. Below are some national online and phone-based supports as a starting point.
If you or someone you know needs immediate help, please call 000.
- BeyondBlue free, confidential online and telephone counselling 1300 224 636
- Kids Helpline offers free 24/7 support for both parents and children. You can call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, chat with a counsellor online, or send Kids Helpline an email.
- Headspace has a range of free online and phone support services to support young people.
- 13YARN is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-run crisis service. Their Crisis Supporters are available to yarn whenever you need them (24/7) – call 13 92 76
- Lifeline offers free crisis support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, text 0477 131 114 or chat with a trained Crisis supporter online.
- MensLine free online and telephone support counselling for men 1300 78 99 78
- Healthdirect’s National Health Services Directory can help you to find a general practitioner (GP), counsellor, psychologist or other health professional in your local area.
- The Raising Children Network has compiled a list of national and state-based parent support helplines and hotlines.
- Life in Mind has a bushfire support services card you can download and print.
RFW’s Resilient Kids Toolkit
The free Resilient Kids Toolkit guide is filled with many easy-to-follow strategies for parents and activities for kids. It’s designed to help develop positive relationships, strengthen mental health and build resilience and self-awareness. You’ll find essential and practical information to support you and your family and help you navigate stressful events and life’s challenges.
To download your copy of the Royal Far West Resilience Kids Toolkit click here
Take a closer look inside the guide with Allied Health Clinical Lead, Dagney Hopp
Find out more about what’s included in the Resilient Kids Toolkit guide, and how these activities, strategies and guides can help build more resilient kids in the wake of natural disasters and other trauma. Watch now ⟶