Communities across South East Queensland and northern New South Wales began a massive clean-up operation earlier this week, after schools were closed and families evacuated their homes. Authorities have confirmed the deaths of 21 people and there are fears the toll could yet rise further.
Save the Children Australia has responded by establishing Child Friendly Spaces in evacuation centres to support the unique needs of children during the emergency.
The organisation has also deployed a team to Ballina in northern New South Wales to support the recovery needs of children and their families, many of whom have lost everything.
Save the Children Australia’s Principal Climate Change Adviser, Paul Mitchell, said extreme weather events in Australia are unfortunately only the beginning of what should be expected due to climate change. He said:
“Children and their families right up and down the east coast of Australia are facing an unprecedented climate disaster with flooding in many places at heights never before seen.
“This follows record flooding this time last year, which itself came hot on the heels of 2019/20’s catastrophic bushfires.
“All of this of course happened during a global pandemic, itself linked to human encroachment on the natural environment.
“To say we’re in a climate emergency is a massive understatement. The most concerning thing is that, without a massive global course correction, this is just the beginning.
“These kinds of shocking events, previously seen perhaps once in a generation, will happen more and more frequently as the impacts of the climate crisis escalate.
“We will see more and more children forced from their homes, their lives disrupted for weeks or months or even years. Their education will be continuously interrupted, which can have lifelong implications.
“We know the threat posed to children by climate change is not theoretical: it is real, and it is urgent, with grave implications for the rights of current and future generations.”
Save the Children Australia has urged governments to ensure the needs of children are systematically met in the immediate response to disasters, as well as their long-term recovery through Child Friendly Spaces and resilience building programs like Journey of Hope.
Save the Children is also calling for world leaders, including Australia, to act now to limit warming temperatures to 1.5 degrees, which would have a life-changing impact for children and future generations all over the world.
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