Supporting the resilience, wellbeing and development of children exposed to bushfire: Occupational therapy’s contribution

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Introduction: As a result of climate change the frequency and recurrence of bushfires in Australia will increase. Although children impacted by bushfires may experience significant consequences for their short- and long-term wellbeing, to date there has been no specific evidence-based interventions developed to support them.

Objectives: To explore the potential contribution of occupational therapy in supporting children’s resilience, wellbeing, and developmental outcomes based on systematic review findings and the outcomes of an evaluation of a bushfire recovery program.

Approach: A review was undertaken using the PRISMA statement for systematic reviews. Sixty studies were initially identified with data extracted from eight studies. Although no evidence-based interventions were found, suggestions for approaches that may support children were identified. In addition, lessons learnt from an evaluation of the outcomes of a Bushfire Recovery Program, implemented by Royal Far West and Unicef to support children impacted by the 2019/2020 Australian bushfires, have been drawn on to explore occupational therapy involvement.

Practice Implications: An effective post-disaster intervention framework to support children impacted by bushfire should emphasise multi-dimensional community-based interventions that involve children, families, schools, and community organisations. Occupational therapy can be key in these interventions by creating supportive environments that mediate and assist in reducing short- and long-term impacts on children.

Conclusion: By engaging in multi-dimensional community-based interventions and focusing on facilitating participation in occupations that address the occupational and contextual needs of children, families, schools and community organisations, occupational therapy can be instrumental in enabling children to develop resilience thereby contributing to ongoing health and wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2022
Event18th World Federation of Occupational Therapists Congress - Hybrid - online and Paris Convention Centre, Paris, France
Duration: 28 Aug 202231 Aug 2022 (Program)


Conference18th World Federation of Occupational Therapists Congress
Abbreviated titleOccupational R-Evolution
OtherThe International Congress is held every four years and brings together occupational therapists, assistants and students from across the globe to develop professional fellowship, exchange technical and scientific information and to promote high standards of occupational therapy practice, research and education worldwide.

The 2022 congress will feature unique social events, local tours, an extensive exhibition and programme of expert presentations on the 2022 theme “Occupational R-Evolution”.
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