In response, thousands of people around Australia and across the world, along with our corporate sponsors, supported Save the Children’s Bushfire Appeal, raising $2.4 million to help children impacted by the fires.
Our response to support the children and families impacted by the bushfire crisis has comprised an immediate emergency response, followed by medium and long-term work to support children to recover from what they’ve experienced.
While the fires still raged, Save the Children set up 10 child-friendly spaces in evacuation, relief and recovery centres in NSW, Victoria and South Australia to provide respite to recently evacuated families. These provided a safe space for children to play, socialise and receive psychosocial support in the hours and days after the fires. The role of these child-friendly spaces in supporting children’s emotional wellbeing cannot be under-estimated and Save the Children has advocated for greater use of them in future crises, as outlined in our submission to the Bushfire Royal Commission.
Once the immediate emergency had passed and the relief centres closed, we continued to work with local authorities to deliver psychosocial support in the hardest hit areas. Our mobile outreach teams returned to communities after recovery centres had closed to make sure every child and family had access to ongoing support.
We then moved to the final phase of our response; engaging with schools and regional authorities to plan delivery of our Journey of Hope program, which works with children whose long-term emotional recovery and wellbeing requires continued support, long after the fires have been extinguished.
Journey of Hope
Journey of Hope ensures the most heavily impacted children receive the support they need to process what they’ve experienced and mitigate the long-term effects that a disaster can have on a child’s development. The program helps children and caregivers cope with traumatic events, develop their natural resilience and strengthen their social support networks. The program is delivered through schools and implemented by trained facilitators to small groups of up to ten students.
Devastatingly, just as communities had a chance to start rebuilding their lives, COVID-19 halted the recovery process and closed schools. To keep children and families safe, we were forced to pause our plans to deliver Journey of Hope until it can be delivered safely, and in line with advice from the State health authorities.