Episode 119

Australian Bushfire Crisis - What to Tell Your New Class

Recorded by | Run time: 26 min, 19 sec


“Black Summer” is Australia’s worst bushfire season on record. Lives, homes and livelihoods have sadly been lost. Communities have been left devastated. Schools have not been spared. Worst of all, it’s not over – weather forecasters warn that drought condition combine with dry heat and wind, more fires are imminent.

Among the unprecedented events of the summer so far, with the tragedy being reported around the clock in a 24-hour news cycle, we’ve also seen incredible acts of bravery, compassion, empathy and generosity.

Teachers may be anticipating lots of questions and comments from students when returning to school.

In this episode, Jill and I talk about some ways to reassure our young students and help them to feel safe in a tumultuous time for us all. We also reach out to fire affected teachers to connect with us at Teach Starter so that we can help.


Media coverage of disasters can trigger a strong emotional response in people, and children can be particularly sensitive. They might:

– Worry the same thing might happen to them.
– Worry for their parents’ safety.
– Feel sad about images of animals that have suffered or perished.
– React with changes in behaviour.

We want to support you as you return to school amongst this tragedy, and so in the coming weeks we will be bringing you more information about how to help your students navigate this tumultuous time, as well as helping you yourself.

Emma is writing an article on how to navigate this time with your students. I’ll be interviewing her to see what she finds out from experts in this area.

If you’ve been directly affected, we’d love for you to message the page and we’ll be in touch to help you out. Likewise, if you know a teacher who needs help, please flag them with us.

For now, some suggestions include:

– Being honest with kids but not overwhelming them with too much information.
– Making ourselves available to answer their questions.
– Helping kids get back to their normal routines: playing and learning.
– Give them some ways to help (writing letters, fundraising).
– Show them all of the heroes – the amazing people doing good work to help out.

There’s a great Behind the News episode by the ABC for kids here: https://www.abc.net.au/btn/classroom/bushfire-season/11505884

If you yourself need some emotional support, please contact Beyond Blue or Lifeline for counselling.   

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


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