We are incredibly saddened to see the devastation caused by the recent bushfires, and like so many, all of us at Variety – the Children’s Charity Victoria are planning how we can helpfully assist and support kids in need in fire affected areas. We will be consulting with our partners and other organisations in fire affected communities to determine the most efficient and useful ways that we can respond by providing help where and when it’s most needed. Our priority remains empowering Aussie kids to attain their full potential, regardless of ability or background.
In 2009, in the aftermath of the Black Saturday bushfires, Variety donated Sunshine Coaches to help transport children to alternate schools in the wake of local school closures, helped build and fund school playgrounds and equipment, delivered hundreds of bikes to school kids, as well as funding student scholarships in honour of Variety Victoria Patron, Brian Naylor who lost his life during the fires. We are working with local communities to determine the medium to long term needs this fire season and are accepting donations that will go towards helping kids in need in these areas.
Like so many we are incredibly proud and thankful for the efforts of the firefighters and volunteers on the ground. Our thoughts are with those all over the country, including our Variety family, who are dealing with the impact of this crisis.
Below we have complied a list of resources that we feel may be especially relevant to our Variety community.
- The National Disability Insurance Agency have released some information for participants and their families affected by bushfires. For information call the usual NDIS number – 1800 800 110 which is open call centre hours Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm. The website says people affected by the fires will be “prioritised” to make sure they can still receive support, replace equipment etc. Providers have been told that the priority is to provide support and services to people who need them. Payment will be made after the emergency through an “urgent plan review” if necessary. A number of NDIA and Local Area Coordination offices are still closed due to the fires. Further details can be found on their website.
- If you need a place to stay, Accessible Australia are trying to help people find accessible accommodation. If you need accessible accommodation or would like to volunteer your home or a bed please visit their Facebook page.
- IDEAS are a national disability information service. They have lots of emergency information at their fingertips. Their phone number is 1800 029 904 and further details can be found on their website.
- If you’re unsure about talking to kids here is an interesting piece on psychological first aid for children and adolescents you may find helpful. We also encourage you to reach out to organisations like Lifeline, Black Dog Institute, Kids Helpline or Beyond Blue if you are feeling overwhelmed or need to have a conversation with someone about what is happening.
- If your family needs tailored support, take a look at the Australian Psychological Society website or talk to your GP.
- Early Connections have developed a Bush Fire Social Story to share with people with autism. Social Stories are a social learning tool that support the safe and meaningful exchange of information between parents, professionals, and people with autism of all ages. If you need to, you can adapt the social story to your family by downloading the word document from the Early Connections website.
- Northcott have putt together a helpful article on How to support a person with disability during the fire season, which includes some helpful advice to prepare and make decisions if you are faced with a fire in your area.