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By UNICEF Australia
1 March 2022

We're standing with them

This week, Australians have watched the devastating destruction, loss of life and impact on communities brought on by catastrophic floods and severe weather in Queensland and NSW.

UNICEF Australia offers sincere condolences to children and families affected by the flooding crisis. We acknowledge the selflessness, professionalism and dedication of first responders, and all organisations working on the ground to support those impacted. 

Children are particularly vulnerable to the trauma of extreme weather events and disasters. These consequences can change the trajectory of their lives, reducing education, employment and psychosocial outcomes immediately and for the rest of their lives. 

Thanks to our ongoing response to the 2019/2020 bushfire crisis, UNICEF Australia is uniquely positioned to draw upon our previous work in disaster response and recommend key strategies to ensure children are at the centre of the response.  

It is imperative that emergency response and relief agencies are supported to meet the unique needs of children and young people throughout both the response and relief phases of this disaster. Our evidence based recommendations which have been raised with both Queensland and NSW State Governments are: 

  • Establish child friendly spaces in evacuation, recovery and relief centres, as well as community hubs, to support children and give parents and carers' time and space knowing their children are cared for; 
  • Develop tailored plans for affected children to keep them connected to their learning as disruptions to schooling continue; 
  • Urgently deploy child-focused mental health and psychosocial support through lead agencies who are best-equipped to respond to children’s needs; 
  • Consult directly with children and young people to best understand their needs and priorities during the floods. 

We also acknowledge the generous outpouring of support from Australians looking to assist the response. Current UNICEF Australia programs and partners are not optimally positioned to respond to an emergency of this nature. We encourage those wishing to support children and families affected by the flooding crisis to do so through the following organisations:  

Climate change is only making these scenarios worse and more frequent. UNICEF Australia’s experience in working with children and young people affected by drought and bushfires brings this current flooding crisis into sharp focus, as we continue to grow our climate work globally. See our tips on how to talk to your child about the impacts of natural disasters.

The recovery process from such a widespread and significant disaster will take a long time. UNICEF Australia calls for more child-centred responses and for the needs of children to continue to be prioritised