ReCap (or Recovery Capitals) is an Australia-New Zealand collaboration funded by the Bushfire & Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre. The project will investigate how the potential of different forms of community capital (social, human, cultural, natural, financial, built & political) may be maximised to promote positive recovery outcomes and stable communities following disaster exposure.
The Strengthening School Communities study confirmed experiential evidence from previous disasters about the nature and extent of post disaster impacts on teachers and school communities after the Black Saturday bushfires, providing insights into future strategies to support the role of teachers in the recovery period.
The study consisted of several components using mixed methods to develop new knowledge and approaches.
Firstly, an analysis of state-wide NAPLAN data demonstrated the extended impacts of the Black Saturday bushfires on the academic progress of primary school children in affected schools.
The release of the findings coincided with the 10 year anniversary of the Black Saturday bushfires and contributed evidence to a decision to invest $1million in State Government funding for additional programs to support student mental health, wellbeing and learning, and to support teacher mental health, wellbeing and professional capacity within the government education sector. State government found the research evidence about student academic impacts so useful that an additional $200,000 was invested in further research about longer term academic impacts.
The research also highlighted the changed demands and stressors affecting teachers in the aftermath of a disaster which can be difficult to address in a system focussed on student needs, including rapid return to school. The findings relating to teacher support needs were used to identify opportunities to upgrade the existing online program - Skills for Psychological Recovery – Teachers (SPRT). An additional module addressing self-care strategies was developed and different delivery modes were piloted in a primary and a secondary school to provide guidance for future practice.
This project will develop and deliver evidence-informed, practical support resources that provide direction on how to address the impacts of disasters and other major emergencies on child mental health and wellbeing, family function and positive parenting.
The resources will be specifically designed for families, schools, services providers and community recovery services in regional/rural centres. When disaster strikes, these resources will enable communities to take an informed and unifying step towards recovery.
This project was made possible by the generous funding provided by Gandel Philanthropy, Helen Macpherson Smith Trust, Colliers Charitable Fund and Perpetual 2019 IMPACT Philanthropy.
It is a collaboration between the University of Melbourne, Australian Red Cross, Phoenix Australia Centre of Posttraumatic Mental Health, Vic Department of Education and Training and community stakeholders.
The Beyond Bushfires study not only included adult participants but also children and adolescents.
Key publications arising from this study relating to children include:
- Gibbs L, Block K, Harms L, MacDougall C, Snowdon E, Ireton G, Forbes D, Richardson J, Waters E. Children and young people’s wellbeing post-disaster: Safety and stability are critical. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction. 2015; 14(2): 195-201.
- Gibbs L, Di Pietro M, Harris A, Ireton G, Mordech S, Roberts M, Sinclair J, Wraith R. Core principles for a community based approach to supporting child disaster recovery. Australian Journal of Emergency Management. Mar 2014; 29(1): 17-24 .
- Gibbs L, Snowdon E, Block K, Gallagher HC, MacDougall C, Ireton G, Pirrone-Savona A, Forbes D, Richardson J, Harms L, Waters E. Where do we start? A proposed post disaster intervention framework for children and young people. Pastoral Care in Education. 2014; 32 (1): 68-87.
- Gibbs L, MacDougall C, Harden J. Development of an ethical methodology for post-bushfire research with children. Health Sociology Review. 2013. 22(2): 114–123.
What supports recovery from emergency events (in high income, developed countries) from the perspective of people affected by emergencies. (2013-2017). Supervisors: Lisa Gibbs, Louise Harms. APA scholarship. (In progress)
Anger, and anger support, for individuals and communities affected by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. (2011-2017). Supervisors: Louise Harms, Lisa Gibbs. APAI scholarship through the Beyond Bushfires ARC Linkage Grant. (Submitted)
Parenting after a disaster: Experiences since Black Saturday. (2013-2017) Supervisors: Louise Harms, Lisa Gibbs, David Rose. STRAPA scholarship through the Melbourne Social Equity Institute. (Submitted)
A Network Society: The study of the use of Information and Communication Technology in long-term disaster recovery. (2011-2015). Supervisors: Louise Harms, Lisa Gibbs. Faculty Research Scholarship and the IBES top-up scholarship. (Successful completion)
Gisela van Kessel
An exploration of the interventions perceived to influence the resilience of adult populations to the effects of natural disasters. (2011-2013). Professional Doctorate. School of Public Health, Flinders University, Supervisors: Colin MacDougall, Lisa Gibbs. (Successful completion)