Helping children and communities affected by bushfires.

An unprecedented disaster unfolded across large parts of Australia in late 2019 and into 2020. The most savage bushfires on record wreaked havoc and devastation. Many people lost their lives and more than 1,600 homes were destroyed. The recovery and rehabilitation process will take time. UNICEF Australia is there helping families and children in need.  


UNICEF Australia is providing three stages of support for children and communities affected by the bushfires: relief, recovery and rehabilitation.


Relief: UNICEF Australia partnered with established local NGOs to provide a Back to School package for children most affected by the bushfires. This program was rolled out in January to ensure children could return to school ready to learn. The relief package included uniforms, textbooks, learning devices (e.g. laptop, iPad, or tablet) and stationery.


Recovery: UNICEF is working to ensure children affected by the bushfires receive appropriate psychosocial and mental health support. The bushfires primarily affected rural and remote communities where mental health services are often not available, and many communities were already dealing with the effects of drought. UNICEF Australia is working with partners to provide these services, as well as deliver training for existing local education, health, and community service providers to strengthen their ability respond to the needs of children and support recovery. 

Rehabilitation: UNICEF Australia is creating appropriate platforms for young people who have been directly affected by the fires to come together to share their experiences and frame solutions for future events. This aims to contribute to wellbeing of young people by countering a sense of isolation; and to ensure the perspectives of children and young people are heard by decision makers and the wider community, and help shape public policy.



Helping children get back to school after the bushfires 

©UNICEF Australia/2020/Simons

Pupils from a secondary school in Victoria try on new uniforms as they return to school after the devastating fires. The school is part of UNICEF Australia’s relief program which provided uniforms, shoes, and textbooks for students.  

The Principal said the fires came within two kilometres of the town. “We had one family who were under blankets in their dam as the fire went over. Across our school community over 200 families were impacted,” she said.  

Student Letisha, 17, who lost her house, said it was going to be hard going back to school without her things, but welcomed UNICEF Australia’s support. I am a bit nervous about coming back, I lost everything but the help we have received has been really wonderful,” she said. 

"I lost everything but the help we have received has been really wonderful."  


Six Month Progress Report


January - July 2020

UNICEF Australia Bushfire Response Program Report Download Report
(PDF, 2.4 MB)