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Our plan for the Bushfire Appeal

23 January 2020, Impact of Our Work

Bushfire affected kids are getting the help they need now

The bushfire crisis that has devastated large parts of Australia has also brought with it unconditional love and support for the affected communities, injured wildlife and our dedicated first responders.

Thousands of people across Australia and around the world have dug deep, supporting Save the Children’s response, which complements the work of other aid agencies by focusing on children’s emotional wellbeing – both in the immediate response, and beyond into the longer-term recovery phase. We have been overwhelmed by the incredible generosity of our supporters. So far we have raised $800,000 to support our bushfire response from our corporate and public supporters, which began in January. 

There are three important ways we are helping children affected by the bushfires: 

Child-Friendly Spaces in evacuation and recovery centres

Since December 2019, Save the Children has set up 8 Child Friendly Spaces across South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, supporting over 600 children in evacuation and recovery centres. These spaces allow children to play, laugh and be kids again at a time when they often feel overwhelmed, scared and distressed. 

Our qualified staff are trained in working in emergencies and in providing emotional support to children. We remain prepared to provide immediate support if new centres open and conditions change.

Child Friendly Spaces are making a real difference for both parents and children. One parent in Bairnsdale told us, “Without this space and all that you wonderful people do for the children, we would not have coped. The children felt safe, they had things to do, they were a lot calmer and they were smiling! They loved it down here and they loved being with you all. You are all angels!”

 

Providing ongoing recovery support

As evacuation and recovery centres close, and people start to return to their home communities, their need for support does not end. We play a vital role helping these families through providing mobile outreach services to affected communities.  

Our teams are already on the ground, providing activities and support using our mobile youth vans and play buses. Our staff are helping children and their families to begin to process what they have experienced, speaking with them about their needs and providing referrals to other services as required. Our mobile outreach teams have been active in Taree in NSW, and Lakes Entrance and Buchan in Victoria this week.  

Supporting long term recovery and resilience

Children can take years to feel safe again after a disaster. The third phase of Save the Children’s response uses our school-based program Journey of Hope, which helps children longer-term to work through their emotions and develop healthy coping skills for the future. Through small group sessions we will deliver age-appropriate activities to help children express their feelings, share their experiences, and build their resilience. We aim to reach over 15,000 children in affected communities through Journey of Hope. 
    

Prepared for the future

Unfortunately, this bushfire season isn’t over yet. While we continue to work with affected families, there is the ever-present threat of more fires, and other disasters. We are ready to scale up our response even further if needed, as the rest of the bushfire season unfolds. We have trained an additional 68 staff members in Child Friendly Spaces and Psychological First Aid, so we can be there for families in the next disaster too. 
    
Whatever happens, funds raised through our Bushfire appeal will continue to go to our work helping children and parents affected by the fires. We remain accountable to our supporters, the Australian Charities Commission, and most importantly, the children and parents who rely on us to help them back to a place of safety. 
    
If you’d like to know more about how your funds are helping the children that need it most, please don’t hesitate to get in touch

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