Supporting children's wellbeing following bushfires: Implications for policy and practice

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

Abstract

Context and aim

The consequences of the 2019/2020 bushfires for children are far-reaching as they may experience short to long-term negative impacts on their wellbeing. A lack of evidence-based interventions to support children following bushfires prompted the development and implementation of a Royal Far West Bushfire Recovery Program in 35 schools and preschools across fire-affected regions of NSW. The Program evaluation informed policy and practice regarding supporting the wellbeing of children exposed to bushfires.

Methods and analysis

A two-phase mixed-methods approach was used to evaluate the Program. Phase 1 involved analysis of pre and post-Program data collected via validated and purpose-designed tools. Data included: a) preschool/school representatives' views on bushfire impact and community needs; b) children, parents, and group facilitators’ ratings of the Program; and c) educators' and parents’ ratings of workshops. Phase 2 involved interviews with key stakeholders, which were analysed using narrative and deductive thematic analysis. Preliminary findings included positive behaviour changes in children, including the use of coping strategies, increased ability to talk to adults about feelings, and active engagement in the Program. Time to discuss experiences and access to allied health services through the Program was beneficial. Improvements and considerations for the sustainability of the Program were identified.

Translational outcomes

The findings contributed to recommendations made in the Royal Far West and UNICEF Australia report, 'After the Disaster', that will protect children following disasters. The report was launched in both Federal and State parliaments, attended by policymakers and politicians from across the political spectrum.

Future actions

'After the Disaster' recommends emergency planning and responses place children at the centre of community-led recovery efforts, and that programs that address and educate communities about the long-term wellbeing of children are needed. These recommendations and those arising from the evaluation will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sep 2021
EventAustralian Public Health Conference 2021 - Canberra, Australia
Duration: 23 Sep 202124 Sep 2021
Conference number: 2021

Conference

ConferenceAustralian Public Health Conference 2021
Abbreviated titleSupporting and Re-energising Public Health in a Disrupted World
Country/TerritoryAustralia
CityCanberra
Period23/09/2124/09/21

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