Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 400. Updated Tuesday, 11 March 2014

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Bushfire video to aid families' recovery

A new animated video from the ANU-based Trauma and Grief Network will help parents and children recover after a bushfire.

Director of the Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network, Amanda Harris said parents could watch the short video with their children, so they could start to think about and discuss how their child was feeling after a bushfire.

The clip tells the story of Kylie the kangaroo and her family, whose home is destroyed by a bushfire.

Produced with funding from the Department of Health, the video will help educate families around the impact that bushfires have on children, and the importance of communities as a source of support during times of bushfire.

Helps children overcome trauma

"When children experience something that is frightening and overwhelming, such as a bushfire or other type of natural disaster, we see a wide range of common reactions," Ms Harris said.

"Some of these include children having difficulty sleeping, feeling scared and worried, especially when they are away from their families, having nightmares, having difficulty concentrating at school and sometimes, for younger children, doing things like thumb sucking, or wetting the bed, when they have not done this for many months."

Events such as bushfires and natural disasters could have some longer-term impacts as well, she said.

"It is important to recognise that the impact of a bushfire is not just felt in the days, weeks and months after, but also in the years after the bushfire has occurred," she said.

Ms Harris said in the years following a bushfire or other disaster, many families experienced financial hardship and possible relationship stress and separation.

"With the right support for children and their families, and lots of patience and understanding, most children will recover well from difficult experiences like bushfires," she said.

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