Background: Children are vulnerable to the trauma of natural disasters, such as bushfires. The impact of bushfire exposure on children’s health, wellbeing, and development may not always be apparent in the short term, but may become more pronounced later in life, particularly if children do not receive appropriate support to process their experiences. The multidisciplinary, community-based Royal Far West (RFW) Bushfire Recovery Program (BRP) was developed to mitigate the impact of bushfires on the health, wellbeing, and development of children.
Aim: To explore perspectives of children and key adults in their lives who were affected by the 2019/2020 bushfires regarding the impact of the RFW BRP on children’s health, wellbeing, and development.
Method: A two-phased mixed methods approach was used, involving post-intervention surveys (children, n = 265; parents, n = 37; group facilitators, n = 15) and interviews (children, n = 2; parents, n = 4; teachers, n = 3; other school/community representatives, n = 2). Quantitative data from surveys were analysed statistically and qualitative data from surveys and interviews underwent content and thematic analysis respectively.
Results: Children learned to trust adults, express their views and share experiences through connection in a group context, understand they are not alone in their thoughts and experiences, and cope with emotional reactions and change. Moving on from the bushfire and marking time was another key theme. Some children wanted to learn more about coping strategies and managing emotions.
Conclusions: Children require appropriate support following bushfires to process their experiences and facilitate a trajectory of recovery. Community-based psychosocial interventions such as the RFW BRP can provide effective support for children to enhance their ability to cope with changes and emotional reactions following bushfire.
Implications for children and families: Participating in a Bushfire Recovery Program can support you to develop coping skills and strategies to reduce the impact of the bushfire on your health, wellbeing, and development.
Implications for practitioners: Multidisciplinary community-based programs can support children to cope with the effect of bushfires and reduce the risk of long-term negative impacts on their health, wellbeing, and development.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022
EventEarly Childhood Voices Conference 2022 - Online, Bathurst, Australia
Duration: 05 Dec 202209 Dec 2022
https://earlychildhoodresearch.csu.domains/early-childhood-voices-conference-2022/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/ECV2022-BOOK-FINAL-v2.pdf (Proceedings)

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Online presentationEarly Childhood Voices Conference 2022
OtherThe Early Childhood Voices Conference 2022 (ECV2022) is a multidisciplinary international conference providing a platform to share research about innovative methods, theories and partnerships with children, families and practitioners that supports social justice during early childhood and within the early childhood sector. ECV2022 was organised by the Charles Sturt University Early Childhood Interdisciplinary Research Group as an opportunity to present research in a virtual online space.

Researchers and post-graduate students were invited to submit abstracts to share their work on innovations to improve the lives of children, families and practitioners during early childhood (generally birth-8 years) and within the early childhood sector. Papers employing qualitative and/or quantitative methods, reviews (e.g., scoping and systematic reviews) and scholarly theoretical papers were welcomed. All abstracts were peer reviewed by the ECV2022 Scientific Committee and authors of accepted abstracts submitted online presentations.

ECV2022 is online and asynchronous. There is no registration fee and no fees to present or view the presentations due to Charles Sturt University’s motto “For the public good”. The conference was held from 5th to 9th December 2022. Presentations will remain online via YouTube. The presentations are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License to indicate that adaptations or commercial use of the presentations are not allowed.
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