The unprecedented and devastating fires across many parts of Australia have caused untold grief and loss and will continue to have long-lasting traumatic effects on those directly and indirectly involved.
As a School Community we are very mindful of families who have suffered over these past few months. Many of our own members of staff, as well as our Alumni and parents, have been directly impacted or have actively supported the incredible efforts of the Rural Fire Service.
The following article from the Student Wellbeing Hub provides some valuable information and resources which I felt may be of benefit to members of our own Barker community.
A number of school communities have been directly affected by bushfires and many others will begin the school year with staff, students and their families deeply impacted by the suffering of other Australians, not to mention the loss of animals and our unique wildlife. In conjunction with parents, schools can help children deal with trauma and build the skills needed to regain a sense of hope for the future.
Schools are rightly seen as the heart of a community, bringing families together to celebrate in happy times, and to rally support in times of challenge. School communities that have shared values and understand the importance of working together to promote wellbeing can play a vital role in supporting the bushfire recovery that will be needed when the 2020 school year begins.
We know that disasters don’t end when the bushfires are extinguished and clean-up and re-building get underway. Evidence-based findings indicate the long-term wellbeing and learning outcomes of young children can be significantly impacted by bushfire trauma. You can read more about this in this study by Professor Lisa Gibbs from the University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health.
Schools across Australia will have in place their own emergency management and response plans and will be supported by their sectors and jurisdictions with additional resources, both online and via specialist services such as those provided by headspace, Beyond Blue, Head to Health and Lifeline.
The Student Wellbeing Hub has put together a set of free resources for schools from a variety of sources to assist in developing a targeted response to the impact of our devastating bushfires on students. The season isn’t over yet so supporting young people and members of the wider school community during and after this traumatic event is essential for everyone’s mental health and wellbeing.
For Parents: Supporting Children Through Bushfires and Other Trauma
Children and young people will experience a range of emotional responses to the recent bushfires that have left so much destruction across Australia. They may feel frightened, anxious, sad or even depressed, thinking that there is nothing they can do to help. Many children will be particularly affected by the plight of animals and our unique wildlife and may be disturbed by the graphic images they have seen on TV or social media.
Parents may find that some children want to talk about the bushfires and how they feel, whereas other children might appear withdrawn and quieter than usual. Parents are often the first adults children turn to for reassurance in times of crisis. These resources aim to provide parents with practical ways to support their children through bushfire disasters and other traumas. For more information and resources visit https://bit.ly/2v3ujPr