Supporting the independent education community

News release: Helping teachers teach and students learn after bushfire trauma

4 February 2020

Helping teachers teach and students learn after bushfire trauma

Non government school teachers, early childhood teachers and support staff who have experienced bushfire trauma or are teaching students who have been through bushfire trauma, will get extra support through an innovative online course provided by their union, the Independent Education Union of Australia (IEUA).

The IEUA has taken a proactive approach by designing the online professional development to respond to an urgent need for members to address their own wellbeing, but also assist their students or their own children to recover after a bushfire.

The course, Responding to Bushfire Trauma, will be conducted by Professor Lisa Gibbs and Jane Nursey of the University of Melbourne, authors of the study Delayed Disaster Impacts on Academic Performance of Primary School Children (2019).

Recent studies into those affected by Victoria’s Black Saturday catastrophic fires have shown that children suffering bushfire trauma demonstrate outcomes one to five years below their age group norm. Staff affected by bushfires are more anxious and have poorer overall wellbeing than staff in comparative settings.

“Through this online course, teachers and support staff will learn how to take care of themselves and each other as well as their students, to help communities get back to normal routines and learning as quickly as possible,” IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam said.

“Delaying acknowledgement of trauma can only lead to more long term problems down the track, and this union has taken responsibility for its members’ wellbeing to try and provide whatever help it can,” Northam said.

“Schools and early childhood services often provide a lighthouse to communities under stress, and we want to ensure our members have the best chances supporting their community by looking after their own welfare too.”

IEUA is also claiming up to five days paid leave per year for employees unable to attend work due to a natural disaster in its current negotiations for the NSW and ACT Catholic Systemic Schools Enterprise Agreement 2020-2022.

Further comment:

Mark Northam, IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Acting Secretary m: 0427 667 061

Carol Matthews, IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Assistant Secretary  m: 0418 272 902

Media contacts: Sue Osborne (02) 8202 8900 , Bronwyn Ridgway (a/h) 0433 373 109

The IEUA NSW/ACT Branch represents over 30,000 teachers, principals and support staff in Catholic and independent schools, early childhood centres and post secondary colleges.

Authorised by Mark Northam, IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary