Strengthening School Communities

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.

Key publications & resources

Summary from Child Trends News Service


Phoenix Australia Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health


Teachers Health Foundation


Contact Name
Professor Lisa Gibbs