RFW welcomes significant grant which will provide critical bushfire recovery support
Royal Far West (RFW) has welcomed the news of the significant financial grant of nearly $4m over two years to support its Bushfire Recovery Program (BRP) as part of the Stage 2 Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Funding.
The Bushfire Recovery Program was initially established in collaboration with UNICEF Australia and expanded further through funding and support from The Paul Ramsay Foundation, HP and Little Wings in response to the devastating bushfires in NSW over the 2019/20 summer.
The funding was announced by the Hon. David Littleproud MP and The Hon. John Barilaro MP earlier this month, with the grant enabling the program to continue supporting the mental health and wellbeing of children in over 30 bushfire impacted communities for a further two years, especially those children with developmental vulnerabilities that could place them at risk of long-term adverse outcomes.
“We are thrilled to receive this grant,” RFW CEO Jacqueline Emery said, noting the role the funding will play in continuing the important work of building the resilience and wellbeing of the children and families within the relevant communities.
“The next two years are critical to recovery and to the prevention of long-term adverse impacts on the most vulnerable children, and this grant will enable us to broaden and deepen our engagement with schools and preschools across seven Local Government Areas (LGAs),” she added.
Research conducted by Charles Sturt University shows the impacts of traumatic natural events like bushfires may not show up in children for up to two years or more following a disaster.
The research, UNICEF Australia CEO Tony Stuart said, shows that children often experience the trauma of large-scale emergency events differently to adults and much later, the support they require is also different.
“We are thrilled that this grant has been provided as it is so important to work with children, families, schools and communities over a longer period of time. When we combine our expertise, resources and advocacy efforts as partners, we can have a much greater impact for children,” he added.
The community based program is delivered through primary and preschool programs, and offers support to children from birth to 12 years of age, and the key adults around the child including parents/carers, educators, local services and community leaders. A multidisciplinary health team delivers the Program through community visits with ongoing support and therapy also offered via technology.
A range of services can be offered through the Program which allows the school/preschool community to choose what is most helpful to them, with options ranging from group work and individual therapy with children focused on building their resilience, to sessions with educators and parents exploring strategies to support the children they care for.
The Program continues working with and supporting 22 primary schools and 12 preschools across the LGAs of Eurobodalla Shire, City of Shoalhaven, Bega Valley Shire, Clarence Valley, Kempsey Shire, Glenn Innes Severn Shire, and Nambucca Valley. So far the Program has supported more than 900 children, 400 educators and 1,100 parents/carers.
The grant will allow for an increased focus on delivering the intensive individual phase of the Program with personalised assessments and multidisciplinary therapy delivered to vulnerable children in order to support their recovery and address underlying developmental concerns.
Critically, the funding will also enable RFW and its partners to share practical learnings and research outcomes with communities, policy and decision makers and local service providers as well as Government to strengthen the future capacity and resilience of rural and remote communities to better respond to not just bushfires, but all types of natural disasters.
“The continued roll-out of our Bushfire Recovery Program equips communities with the knowledge, skills and information to be able to respond to natural disasters through the phases of preparedness, relief and recovery to protect rural Australian children now and into the future,” Ms Emery added.