Bushfire Trauma

Resources for adults helping children

If, like many Australians, you and your family have been affected by bushfires, you may be concerned about the impact these trauma events have had/will have on the children in your life. Finding information on what to do for the psychological and emotional wellbeing of a child following such events can be challenging and overwhelming, particularly if you are dealing with your own emotions and worries. That’s why I’ve put together this list of resources you may find useful. I’m a qualified primary & secondary teacher, with autism spectrum disorder being my area of further study, and as such am only recommending resources which I consider to be from reputable, informed sources. I’ve written a short blurb on each link so you know what to expect from it, and you can skip to the ones you think will be most useful to you. Thanks to the wonderful teachers, caregivers and friends who suggested resources. If you have any resources you think could be added, please send an email to urbannanna@yahoo.com with a link or attachment of the resource.

RESOURCES

UNICEF

The most current, informed list of ways to talk to your children about the Australian bushfire crisis. Written in direct response to the 2019-2020 bushfires. The best place to start learning what to do is here.

BEYOND BLUE

Short webpage with general notes on common reactions to traumatic events. Bullet point lists of typical reactions, reactions that are worth discussing with a professional healthcare provider, and a “Do & Don’t” list of ways to deal with the emotional impact of a natural disaster. Primarily geared towards adults. Contains a list of contacts to go to for further assistance.

LIFELINE

Short webpage with concise info on the emotional impacts of natural disaster, along with a good list of strategies to help you cope. Brief section on how to help kids deal with the impacts. Great list of contacts to go to for further assistance.

HELPGUIDE.ORG

Excellent resource outlining effects of trauma events on children of different age groups. Includes lots of clear and detailed tips to help children deal with emotional impacts of trauma events. Outlines signs that it could be time to involve a professional healthcare provider. Probably the best resource in this list, in my mind.

CHILD TRAUMA ACADEMY

Another excellent article discussing the ins and outs of trauma and how it affects children. A longer read (15 pages), but very easy to understand, and full of practical thinking and explanations, which are helpful in understanding how your child may be feeling and why they’re acting certain ways.

AUSTRALIAN PSYCHOLOGICAL SOCIETY

Psychology based 2 page document with guidelines for parents and caregivers of children who have been through bushfires, or are anxious about bushfires. A good list of potential signs that children are feeling distressed, and another list with suggestion of what adults can do to help.

AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF FAMILY STUDIES (AIFS)

Webinar discussing how practitioners can help children and families navigate the different stages of community trauma. Covers many aspects & strategies. Written synopsis and link to full webinar on YouTube.

EMERGING MINDS

Website with many resource toolkits for helping different community members deal with trauma events. I found it a bit challenging to navigate, and can imagine this would be even more overwhelming if I’d been personally involved in a trauma event. Here’s the direct link to the document with resources specifically for parents and caregivers of children affected by trauma events. Contains links to short articles, podcasts, videos and fact sheets. Lots of good information here. https://d2p3kdr0nr4o3z.cloudfront.net/content/uploads/2019/10/04132936/ResourceSummary-Parents-and-Carers.pdf Also linking the main trauma toolkit website, as the resources involved would be valuable to other community members involved. https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/toolkits/community-trauma-toolkit/

CHILDREN’S HEALTH (Qld Government)

A series of cartoon illustrated picture story books for young kids – pitched around the 4-8 age level – about a young bird who has to deal with a variety of distressing events (drought, fire, flood, community illness, heatwaves, cyclones and earthquakes). Quite simplistic stories, and very much carrying the ‘everything will be alright’ message. Would be good as immediate response stories for kids who were involved in any of these trauma events.

EARLY CONNECTIONS

A social story about what can happen in a bushfire event. Primarily, social stories are used with children and adults on the Autism Spectrum as a way of modelling appropriate (safe) responses to a variety of ‘everyday’ events and circumstances.

AUTISM TASMANIA

Excellent short article with tips on how to help children on the autism spectrum understand and cope with bushfire events. Includes two scripted social stories.

ANU COLLEGE OF HEALTH & MEDICINE

A list of good resources for both caregivers and educators to use with children suffering grief and trauma as a result of bushfires.

THE CONVERSATION

Discussion article about how the educational program Bounce Back! has been used to help children who’e experienced bushfires build personal resilience. Medium length, but easy to follow, studded with facts and figures, and containing excerpts of the Bounce Back! program and how/why it works.

EDUCATION NSW

Education website with in-depth information about the Bounce Back! resilience program available for purchase by educators.

SUSTAINABLE GARDENING AUSTRALIA

Short article on the role of gardening in recovery from bushfire. Talks about emotional and environmental benefits.

GOODTHERAPY.ORG

A broad list of Art therapy ideas parents, caregivers and teachers can use with children following a natural disaster. Worded to focus on hurricanes, but easily adaptable to bushfires or other trauma events. Includes references to ‘God’, in a way that can be useful when talking with children who hold religious beliefs.

Academic (long) article delving into the history and effectiveness of art therapy to help children process and deal with emotional impacts of natural disasters. Consider this as ‘further reading’ if you want to explore the concept more deeply.

HARVARD HEALTH POLICY REVIEW

Academic (long) article on the effects of Art & physical therapy on children who have been impacted by natural disasters. Not ‘too academic’ in language, but requires some focus. Good info on the benefits of physical activity following the trauma event.

THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF FAMILY THERAPY

Academic (long) article on short & long term effects of natural disasters on children. Not an easy read, but filled with very useful information. Worth putting aside for ‘further reading’ if and when you want to delve deeper into questions about how your child is coping over time.

TRAUMA SENSITIVE YOGA

A list of registered trauma sensitive yoga teachers in Australia. Some have psychology/education backgrounds too.

I hope you find some of these resources useful. Sending much love to you all. Xo Anna
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