New ACYP report shares children and young people’s experiences of disaster
Prior to the state grappling with COVID-19, New South Wales has experienced prolonged drought, an unprecedented bushfire season and floods. These disasters have directly or indirectly impacted hundreds of thousands of children and young people across NSW.
The Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People (ACYP) went to disaster affected areas of NSW and spoke directly to more than 400 children and young people face-to-face about their experiences of disaster. This was followed up with quantitative polling of a further 1,000 children and young people.
The combined results of the conversations and the quantitative polling has informed the development of the Children and Young People’s Experience of Disaster Report.
Having given children and young people a platform to inform decision makers and service providers about how to best continue to support their needs before, during and after a disaster, the report also highlights the ways in which children and young people want to be included in the planning and implementation of solutions that relate to disaster preparedness and recovery as well as how to further support them now and into the future.
Underpinning the report is the development of a Disaster Resilience Framework for children and young people, with some of the key findings in the report including:
- disasters and the life changes that follow have significant impacts on mental health and wellbeing
- the destruction and damage caused to schools affects access to education, engagement, learning and academic achievement
- disasters can impact the housing stability of children and young people including damage to homes and farms as well as displacement and relocation
- disasters can create youth unemployment and heavy workloads for children and young people affected by drought and other social and economic issues
- children and young people can feel invisible, forgotten and unable to influence the world around them, they wish to have a voice and be involved in disaster recovery
- connection to land and community were raised as important concerns.
The report had 10 recommendation topics including the importance of activities and programs for children and young people, raising awareness of their needs during times of disaster, education and practical and financial assistance.