Mobile Play Buses For Bushfire Affected Families Plus "how To Help Children Cope

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10th February 2009, 07:59pm - Views: 913

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Tuesday, 10th February, 2009



With formal support from local Shire Councils, Save the Children is deploying

Mobile Play Buses to areas affected by the devastating bushfires, to assist

children and their families during the acute phase of the emergency.

A Mobile Play Bus was operational today at Wandong Community Centre, where

more than 75 young children and their parents gathered.

Chris Strahan, State Executive of Save the Children Victoria, traveled to

Wandong for the first day of operation.  

“Save the Children has been operating the Mobile Play Bus throughout Victoria

for a number of years.  We decided that this was a valuable way to help in the

recovery process for those families devastated by the bushfires”, she said.  

The program is designed for children aged 0-6 and provides early childhood play

activities as well as support services (including referral options) for parents.  

“In the coming days and weeks, we hope to make the Mobile Play Bus available

in areas where the need is greatest.  Children can spend time playing together

and with their parents or carers, colouring, painting or doing puzzles.  All

activities that assist in the recovery process and help them achieve some sense

of normality,” Ms. Strahan said.

Each Mobile Play Bus will be available Monday to Friday, 10am – 3pm, however

this may vary depending on need.


The Mobile Play Bus scheme has trained staff who are employed directly with

Save the Children.  All have been police checked and have existing “Working

with Children Certificates”.


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How to Help Children Cope

Ten Tips from Save the Children

The dramatic images of disasters impact children not only in the

immediate area where the destruction has taken place but also children

throughout the country watching the images on television. 

Concerned about the emotional well-being of their children, many

parents, teachers, grandparents and caregivers are looking for advice on

how to respond to questions from children about unsettling and upsetting

events that continue to be shown in the media about the disaster and the

impact on homes, families and neighbourhoods.  

Children often ask the adults in their lives to explain what they are seeing

and reassure them about what will happen next:

"Will everything be OK? Why is this happening? What will happen to the

children who have lost so much?" 

How do we respond to these questions? 

In the aftermath of disasters, Save the Children prepared the following 10

tips to help adults support children through times of crisis. These tips are

based upon Save the Children's years of international experience and

can be used as a guide for adults to support children through this current

crisis. The relevancy of different tips may vary upon issues such as a child's

previous experience, age and where he or she lives in the world. 


Turn off the television. They may not understand that the tape of an

event is being replayed, and instead think the disaster is happening

over and over again. 


Listen to your children carefully. Before responding, get a clear

picture of what it is that they understand and what is leading to

their questions. 


Give children reassurance and psychological first-aid. Take this

opportunity to let them know that if any emergency or crisis should

occur, your primary concern will be their safety. 


Be alert for significant changes. Parents should be alert to any

significant changes in sleeping patterns, eating habits,

concentration, wide emotional swings or frequent physical

complaints without apparent illness. 


Expect the unexpected. Not every child will experience these

events in the same way. As children develop, their intellectual,

physical and emotional capacities change. 


Give your children extra time and attention. They need your close,

personal involvement to comprehend that they are safe and



Be a model for your child. Your child will learn how to deal with

these events by seeing how you deal with them. 


Watch your own behavior. Make a point of showing sensitivity

toward those impacted by the disaster. This is an opportunity to

teach your children that we all need to help each other. 


Help your children return to normal activities. Children almost

always benefit from activity, goal orientation and sociability. Ensure

that your child's school environment is also returning to normal

patterns and not spending great amounts of time discussing the


10. Encourage your child to do volunteer work. Helping others can give

your child a sense of control, security and empathy. Indeed, in the

midst of crisis, adolescents and youth can emerge as active agents

of positive change. Encourage your children to help support local

charities that assist children in need.  


Save the Children is the world’s largest independent child rights agency.  Save the

Children works in over 100 countries, including Australia, making a reality of children’s

rights to survival, development, protection and participation.

Save the Children has a long history in disaster management, primarily overseas and can

offer assistance programs that are child focused.  Specifically, these programs address

the psychosocial needs of children affected by disasters and can be rolled out through the

Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) program.

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For further information contact:

Sharyn Hanly, Media Adviser, Save the Children Australia

Tel:  +61 3 9938 2011    or   Mob:  +61 (0) 437 355 096.

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