« Bushfire response

It was the bushfire season of September 2019 to
March 2020.  

Years of drought coupled with heatwaves and extreme weather led to bushfires that affected an estimated 80 per cent of the Australian population.  

For children and young people, the consequence of trauma from these events can change the trajectory of their lives, impacting mental health, education and employment. For those in rural and remote areas, the effects have been compounded by the triple
crises of bushfires, drought and COVID-19. 

Before, during and after disasters 

This report, After the Disaster: Recovery for Australia’s Children, was produced in partnership between UNICEF Australia and Royal Far West – a charity dedicated to the health and wellbeing of Australia’s ‘country kids’. 

This report describes the challenges that many of Australia’s children and young people face as a result of where they live. Through this report we are calling for more support for children and young people in Australia before, during and after disasters, and an urgent review of government policies.   

We found that children and young people are particularly susceptible to the impacts of natural disasters like bushfires, and governments, non-government agencies and philanthropic organisations need to urgently invest in research, policies and programs to strengthen their resilience following these events. 

Read the report
UNICEF Australia and Royal Far West partnered to reach children in rural communities with psychosocial and learning support.


Key report recommendations:
  • commissioning a review of relevant policies and frameworks that guide disaster planning, response and recovery efforts to ensure the unique needs of children are specifically identified and addressed,
  • funding mental health and wellbeing programs in rural and remote communities,
  • increased education for communities about the impact of disasters on children, and 
  • establishing a panel of preferred providers that are ‘fit for purpose’ to respond quickly in the event of a natural disaster or emergency event that can provide relief and long term recovery programs for children. 
“We are the ones who will be grappling with hotter
temperatures, cyclones, floods and bushfires all our lives.This planet is
our home. Together we can create
a climate safe future.
Read the report
In response to the 2019/2020 bushfires, UNICEF Australia partnered with local organisations to provide support to children and young people impacted by the bushfires. Throughout the response, our teams have been conducting critical research to support further emergency responses. 
What does our program look like? 
  • Providing support in the immediate aftermath of the bushfires. We partnered with local organisations to help more than 11,000 children get back to school.  
  • Supporting psychosocial and trauma programs delivered by our partners in communities, for children, families and young people. More than 6,800 children and adults have accessed these services in 27 communities.   
  • Lifting the voices of young people to build back better. By listening and consulting with those impacted, we can deliver real change and take their views to our leaders.