Natural disaster resources


The department is committed to supporting Queenslanders affected by natural disasters and provides a range of resources to assist students, staff and parents prior to, during and after a natural disaster.

Support for students, teachers and parents following the 2019–2020 bushfires

Many Queensland state school students and school communities will have been impacted by the recent bushfires occurring across Australia. Some students and families may have been directly affected either from fires in Queensland or interstate while on holidays, while others may have been indirectly affected by hearing about the fires, seeing media reports, or knowing people who were directly affected.

Regardless of whether or not they have been directly affected, children and young people are particularly vulnerable during and following natural disasters. The following resources are available to help support students, teachers and parents who may have been impacted by the bushfires.

The Australian Government’s Department of Education has developed 2 fact sheets for parents of children starting or returning to school in a bushfire-affected area. These are available on the Support for bushfire-affected communities website.

Be You has developed a Bushfire resource pack for educators. The pack includes resources for each stage of response and recovery – immediate, short term and long term.

The Australian Psychological Society has developed the resource Helping children who have been affected by bushfires. This resource provides parents and carers with information on the impacts of trauma on children and how parents can help children recover.

Birdie and the Fire is an online storybook for young children about recovering from fires, developed by Children’s Health Queensland.

The Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors have developed anbushfire and drought assistance information sheet (DOCX, 350KB).

Further information about responding to natural disasters is provided below.

Departmental procedures

The disaster and emergency management procedure outlines the responsibilities of staff in state schools and departmental workplaces when responding to a natural disaster or emergency event.

School closures and student absences

Information about school closures as a result of an emergency or natural disaster can be found on the department's website.

Schools and parents should note that absences recorded as a result of an extreme weather event or natural disaster (DOC, 184KB) are not counted on a student's report card nor in the school's absence data.

Resources for parents

Children can be particularly affected by a disaster and each child will respond to the event in a different way. The following resources may assist parents and caregivers in reducing their child's fears and help them move on following the crisis.

When developing departmental resources, the department liaised with national experts including: Professor Brett McDermott, who is a child and adolescent psychiatrist and expert in emotional trauma in children following large scale disasters; Dr Rob Gordon, a clinical psychologist with many years experience in advising on disaster related matters; and Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, who is a leading child and adolescent psychologist.

Looking after yourself and your family after a disaster (PDF, 6.1MB) is a resource jointly developed by the Australian Centre for Post-traumatic Mental Health, Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement, Australian Red Cross and Beyond Blue. The resource is targeted at adults and contains practical advice, links to articles and contact details for support services that may be able to provide assistance following a disaster.

The Queensland Governments Emergency services and safety website includes practical advice on preparing for and managing during a natural disaster.

The Queensland Government has developed the Coping in a Crisis fact sheets. These resources may help families understand social and emotional reactions to crisis, support their responses to traumatic events and assist with their recovery. The fact sheet topics include:

The departmental fact sheet Emotional responses by children affected by natural disasters (DOC, 217KB) provides information for parents about children's possible emotional reactions following a natural disaster.

Strategies for parents - children affected by natural disasters (DOC, 217KB) developed by the department provides strategies for parents to use when talking to and supporting their children during a natural disaster.

The Australian Psychological Society has developed the resource Looking after children who have been affected by floods (PDF, 59KB). This resource provides parents and carers with information on the impacts of trauma on children and how parents can help children recover.

headspace has developed the resource After a natural disaster which provides information for parents, family members and friends about common reactions to a natural disaster and how to help a young person.

The Trauma, Loss and Grief Network's resource Talking to children and young people about trauma (PDF, 85KB) provides information about talking to children about trauma.

Children's Health Queensland have published online storybooks about Birdie and her friends recovering from natural disasters, aimed at children up to 12 years old.

Preparing for dangerous weather - Do your kids feel safe?

A number of resources provide important tips for young people and parents to provide information and support during the dangerous weather season. With the dangerous weather season upon us, this timely information can help with children's anxiety about the weather and the upcoming anniversaries.

Resources for young people

The Australian Red Cross' After the emergency website contains an online suite of multimedia resources to support young people following an emergency. The suite of resources includes podcasts, videos and links to other sites and resources.

The Mater Young Adult Health Centre Brisbane's Youth Natural Disaster Recovery website provides help and support for young people who have experienced a natural disaster. The website also provides information for friends, parents and teachers who are often the first people to notice that a young person is having difficulties after a natural disaster.

headspace has developed information to help young people cope with the stress of natural disasters and know where to go for help.

Last updated 31 January 2020