Aid agency Save the Children has set up three ‘child friendly spaces’ in Far North Queensland to help children and families impacted by floods in and around Townsville.
The region has been hit by severe flooding in recent weeks and an extensive and challenging recovery effort is underway. Save the Children’s child friendly spaces will operate from three disaster recovery centres, located at Townsville Stadium, 1300 SMILE Stadium and Townsville Brothers Football Club.
“While there is much focus on the physical impacts of the floods, children who’ve lived through these experiences often struggle to cope emotionally,” Save the Children Queensland State Manager Jason Ware said.
“These ‘child friendly spaces’ help children cope with the situation by giving them a supervised space where they can simply be children again. They can paint, play games and spend time with other children in a safe and friendly environment.
“We have an amazing group of dedicated staff in Queensland who, supported by some interstate colleagues, bring a set of fantastic skills for a time like this. It’s great that we can put these skills to good use to help children whose lives have been turned upside down because of the floods.
“Children are always among those most affected in any emergency and this is no exception. The children coming to the child friendly spaces face a great deal of uncertainty and they need the support to help them process and deal with this experience. It is one of life’s great joys to see a child who’s faced such adversity suddenly smiling, laughing and having fun.”
Mr Ware said child friendly spaces were particularly helpful for families. “It allows parents to do the necessary things like getting support, cleaning up, salvaging possessions and dealing with administrative matters such as insurance while knowing their children are being cared for.”
Save the Children will run the child friendly space, which is funded by the Queensland Government, for five days with the possibility of extension depending on need.
One of the world’s leading humanitarian organisations, Save the Children has a long history responding to disasters both overseas and in Australia. These include the recent Tasmanian bushfires, the Queensland floods in 2013 and following Cyclone Yasi in Queensland in 2011.
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