Speaking to Children About the Australian Bushfires


It has been so difficult to watch the carnage at the hands of the bushfires in my country, Australia.

What has offset some of the pain and devastation has been the outpouring of goodwill from regular Australians as well as prominent figures both locally and overseas. No greater than Shane Warne, a local cricketing hero who has auctioned off his prized “baggy green” representative cricket hat for the bushfire appeal. The hat raised over 1 million dollars and will make a significant difference to those affected.

I don’t have a million dollars to give, but I am looking forward to donating all the royalties for my book sales during the month of January. I may even extend it to February to maximise my donation.

One of the difficult aspects of this story is how the crises is affecting children. An event of this magnitude poses many challenges for parents as they try to ensure that their children don’t become too anxious or depressed over it.

Samantha Dick from the New Daily wrote a brilliant article on this very topic, which included the following tips for parents and teachers:


1. Let them know that whatever they are feeling is okay

Listen to your children’s concerns and respond from a position of strength.

E.g. “I can hear how worried you are. What’s happening is scary, but you are safe. There are so many people who feel exactly the way you do. You aren’t alone – I promise.”

2. Reassure your children

Let them know there are lots of people like firefighters working hard to keep them safe.

If they see emergency services personnel or hear sirens, reassure them that these experts are very skilled at what they do.

3. Help your children know they, and others, won’t be alone

Disasters are a time when communities come together.

Remind them that people who have lost their homes or have been hurt in the fires will be looked after.

Talk to them about the charities and organisations like Foodbank Australia and Red Cross providing support.

Remind them of the good in the world.

4. What if this happens to us?

Traumatic events can make children very aware of their own vulnerability. They will usually look to the close adults in their lives for signs of safety.

E.g. “Every time something like this happens, we learn how to stay safer. We learn how things like this happen, so we can stop it happening again.”

5. Keep up to date with weather and warnings

Talk to your children about weather warnings and fire ratings, especially for total fire ban days, and explain why some activities like cooking sausages on barbecues are prohibited at these times.

6. Make sure your children know vital information

Make sure they can recite their full name and address, emergency contact numbers and any allergies or medical conditions they have.

Check they know to call Triple Zero in an emergency and practice what they need to say.

Practice your fire plan with them.

7. Help them find ways to help

Encourage your children to find ways to help others in their community.

Explain how their own acts of kindness will help alleviate their own feelings of despair and helplessness.


Special Announcement:

I am donating 100% of the royalties of my hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian, during the month of January to those affected by the devastating bushfires in my country, Australia. This book is perfect for children aged 9 to 14 and the ideal class novel for Upper Primary students. Please leave a comment to indicate your purchase. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.


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