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Children’s needs must be prioritised as WA recovers from devastating flooding emergency

As the disaster response continues in the Kimberley region, there is an opportunity to build back with a stronger focus on children’s wellbeing
 
13 January 2023

As unprecedented flooding continues to isolate communities and impact homes in Western Australia’s far north, Save the Children’s 54 reasons has warned that children will face weeks, if not months, of significant challenges unless their unique needs are met.

The disaster in the Kimberley region has been called “the worst flooding event the state has ever seen” and while recovery efforts are underway, this is made difficult by damage to critical infrastructure that could take months to repair

54 reasons, which delivers Save the Children’s services in Australia, today highlighted the need for disaster recovery efforts that are not only timely but also provide long-term support for children in the region, many of whom faced challenges in accessing health services, education, and housing even prior to the floods.

Amanda Hunt, Western Australia State Director for 54 reasons, said the impact of the devastating flooding on children in the region is likely to be significant.  

“We know that children are always the most vulnerable in emergencies, and crises can severely affect both their physical safety and emotional wellbeing,” Ms Hunt said. 

“It is critical that children in the Kimberley are not overlooked during disaster recovery efforts, which should be long-term, community led and put children at their centre.

“While the road to recovery is likely to be long and difficult, it does provide an opportunity to build infrastructure and services that give children in the region the  the chance to grow and learn in safe, supportive environments that enable them to thrive.

“Children who have been impacted by the flooding in the Kimberley will require long-term social and emotional support, which is necessary to help to develop their natural resilience to future shocks.”


Authorities are concerned that the recent flooding emergency in Western Australia is a premature start to the region’s wet season, with February and March statistically the wettest months of the year still to come. 

Federal Government figures show that an extraordinary 80 percent of council areas in Australia have declared disasters in the last four years alone.

“What’s happening in WA is, unfortunately, the latest of a growing catalogue of climate-fuelled disasters impacting the lives of Australian children, underscoring the very urgent need for leaders to act on climate change while ensuring children are prioritised in both disaster recovery and planning,” Ms Hunt said. 

Save the Children and 54 reasons have a long history of supporting children and communities in Australia following disasters, including through programs such as Journey of Hope, an in-school post-disaster recovery program developed with children and educators.

After the devastating Black Summer 2019-2020 bushfires, Journey of Hope was delivered to 5,000 children in pre-schools, primary and secondary schools and to caregivers online in the most heavily impacted regions in NSW and Victoria.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: Mala Darmadi on 0425562113 or media.team@savethechildren.org.au

NOTES TO EDITOR:

54 reasons is Save the Children’s Australian service delivery arm, working in almost 200 communities and locations in every Australian state and territory. 54 reasons delivers quality services to children and families to support child development, divert young people from the justice system, respond to domestic and family violence, and amplify children’s voices and participation in.

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