In recent times NSW has experienced prolonged drought, an unprecedented bushfire season and floods. These disasters have directly or indirectly impacted hundreds of thousands of children and young people across NSW.
The Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People went to disaster affected areas of NSW and spoke directly to more than 400 children and young people face-to-face about their experiences of disaster. This was followed up with quantitative polling of a further 1,000 children and young people.
The combined results of this research informed the development of the Children and Young People’s Experience of Disaster Report.
A report like this would not have been possible without the support of both the Hon. Gareth Ward MP, Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services and the Hon. Bronnie Taylor MLC, Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women. We also appreciate the support given by the many government departments, organisations and service providers. We want to thank the 1,400 children and young people who gave their time, offered insight and shared their personal experiences on this topic.
This report gave children and young people a platform to inform decision makers and service providers about how to best continue to support their needs before, during and after a disaster.
The report also highlights the ways in which children and young people want to be included in the planning and implementation of solutions that relate to disaster preparedness and recovery as well as how to further support them now and into the future.
Underpinning this is the development of a Disaster Resilience Framework for children and young people.
Some of the key findings in the report include:
- disasters and the life changes that follow have significant impacts on mental health and wellbeing
- the destruction and damage caused to schools affects access to education, engagement, learning and academic achievement
- disasters can impact the housing stability of children and young people including damage to homes and farms as well as displacement and relocation
- disasters can create youth unemployment and heavy workloads for children and young people affected by drought and other social and economic issues
- children and young people can feel invisible, forgotten and unable to influence the world around them, they wish to have a voice and be involved in disaster recovery
- connection to land and community were raised as important concerns.
We look forward to working with many of you so that we can heed the voices gathered in this report and implement the recommendations that have been so generously offered by children and young people.
A/Advocate for Children and Young People Office of the Advocate for Children & Young People
Ground Floor, 219-241 Cleveland Street
Strawberry Hills, NSW 2012