Crucial intervention for children from bushfire-affected areas

News Updates

In 2020, Cottage by the Sea will begin a three-year commitment to supporting children from Victorian bushfire-affected communities by providing Take a Break camps. We have previous experience supporting children who experienced trauma in the 2009 Victorian fires, over an extended period.

The Take a Break camps for primary school-age children from bushfire affected communities will be held over five days at our Queenscliff seaside location. Children will receive 24-hour care with our professional Camp Team while engaging in a range of healthy and physical activities. Typically, children will swim in the ocean, explore the local environment and visit attractions. Children may also participate in fishing charters, where they go on a boat, catch fish and then eat it on the same day – for many a first-time experience.

These camps provide crucial intervention to support children’s mental health and wellbeing.  Research by the University of Melbourne, published in the journal Child Development, shows that even four years on from the Black Saturday fires, primary school children from the most affected areas were significantly more likely than their peers to be lagging in both reading and maths.

By looking at the data for children who were in Grade 1 at the time of the fire, the researchers could compare the Grade 3 and 5 NAPLAN results of those children attending schools in communities badly affected by the fires with those of children in less affected areas.

Professor Lisa Gibbs, from the University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health, said: “We knew from our ongoing work in the Black Saturday communities that anecdotally the school performance of kids was suffering, but there was no data to back that up. But we now have the data and a clear message that we need to be on the front foot in providing interventions to support ongoing learning in the wake of disasters.”

Cottage by the Sea receives no government funding for programs, so we are seeking community support to provide intervention through Take A Break camps for bushfire-affected communities over the next three years. We have already established relationships with schools and have prepared our project plan for implementing this program of support.

Proceeds from our Annual Fair in January were directed into this program and our CEO, Adam Wake, has undertaken a significant personal challenge in the jungle of Belize (Central America) while fundraising for the cause.  We will continue to develop the program in conjunction with the schools and families of the children, with the first camp expected to take place in the second half of 2020.

Would you like to help?

Last year, more than 1,400 children were inspired, had fun and accessed new opportunities through our children’s programs. As Cottage by the Sea programs receive no government funding, we rely on the generosity of corporate sponsors, individual donations and contributions.

If you would like to make a financial donation, please click here or call us on
03 5258 1663

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