Bushfire trauma training to help kids

Wytaliba state school was rebuilt last week after being wrecked in last November's bushfires.
Wytaliba state school was rebuilt last week after being wrecked in last November's bushfires.

Staff who help bushfire-affected children in Glen Innes struggling to overcome the trauma of natural disaster will be trained what to do this week.

Health and education professionals will have access this Thursday to training in trauma recovery program Stormbirds.

The program brings young people together in small groups and uses peer support to overcome the trauma of natural disasters.

HealthWISE, which organised the trip, said they've had strong interest in the program in the town, with trainees traveling from as far as Inverell, Tenterfield, Armidale and Guyra to take part.

"Schools have burnt down. Children are anxious and reluctant to leave their families. Everything's different. The landscapes have totally changed," said Senior Mental Health Clinician Anne Galloway.

Some children are grieving and contemplating mortality for the first time, while many more have lost their normal routine and environment, she said.

Stormbirds is one way for teachers to help.

In four sessions, young people who have experienced natural disasters are encouraged to share their experiences in creative ways, understand their feelings and develop resilience.

"We are upskilling people providing services to children in order to encourage sustained recovery for children with trauma," Ms Galloway said.

"We want to reduce stress around the event of bushfire and promote adaptive coping skills for the future."

The training is designed to teach community professionals who work with children how to promote recovery in the aftermath of the bushfires and drought.

If demand remains high, organisers may consider hosting another training event in the future.

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