By CELA on 21 Jan, 2020

Our nation has recently been exposed to catastrophic fire, drought, dust storms and hail the size of golf balls. These extreme weather conditions have impacted greatly on the health and wellbeing of many of our members, their local communities and the wider population.

It’s important that you know that the CELA team is here to help anybody who has been affected by these weather events, whether directly or indirectly. You may not know what you need yet, but we’re here for you for the long haul to provide resources to support you and your team, to connect you with what you need to get you through, and to be a friendly voice on the phone to share your thoughts and concerns.

Our member support team have called many of the services directly impacted by fires, and we have heard heartbreaking stories of loss of life, property and livestock and the effect it has had on those exposed. If we haven’t been able to reach you yet, or if you haven’t heard from us, please reach out via our free support line 1800 157 818.

Last week our CEO Michele Carnegie travelled to fire impacted communities to personally visit some of the services that have been directly impacted. During those visits Michele heard first hand the trauma and personal tragedy that has impacted educators, families and communities. These discussions have directly influenced CELA’s advocacy focus for funding and resourcing immediate, ongoing and future needs.

In addition to this, we have built a partnership with Relationships Australia, and have commenced delivering meaningful counselling support for educators and management in impacted areas. This partnership will continue into the coming months and will include a highly experienced Relationships Australia trauma counsellor visiting members to help educators understand, identify and respond to trauma in children, know how to support each other, and understand how and when to set professional boundaries. If you would like to know more about this support, please contact us via or our 1800 support line 1800 157 818 or email, or contact Relationships Australia directly on 02 6122 7100 and ask to speak to a trauma counsellor.

In today’s Amplify we share a curated list of useful resources and articles:

Understanding and responding to trauma following a natural disaster

The beginning of 2020 has brought much devastation across Australia. CELA CEO Michele Carnegie has seen first-hand the impact of widespread loss throughout communities on the south coast of NSW and heard stories of fear, near misses, courage and humanity.

“The fires have been fought by communities and it will be the strength of communities that will see people through to recovery,” says Ms Carnegie.

We know that many people are trying to get some order into their lives, or may still be in the midst of devastation. CELA is working with counsellor Jan Ryan from Relationship Australia to develop specific support mechanisms and resources for educators and children during this incredibly tough time.

In this article Jan, a resident of the fire affected NSW south coast, offers guidance on how to understand and respond to trauma following a natural disaster. We hope that this may be of use to you when you are ready.

Read more

Responding to trauma: voice recording

Jan Ryan from Relationship Australia offers guidance on how to understand and respond to trauma following a natural disaster.

Be You’s Bushfire Response: Resource pack for educators

Be You has developed a resource pack for schools and early learning services affected by the bushfires. The resource pack focuses on providing information related to mental health and wellbeing for learning communities. While the physical impact of the crisis is obvious, the mental health impact may not be, and will be experienced differently by people. Knowing how to look after yourself, and others, is especially important for coping and recovery.

Read more


Birdie and the fires: A free e-book

This is a story of a happy little bird who is forced to flee with her animal friends when a bushfire sweeps through her neighbourhood. Her nest and the tree it sat in is destroyed in the fire, but lots of helpers come to lend a hand and by the end of the book, Birdie is singing again,her tree has started to grow back and her friends have returned.

Developed by the Queensland Government, it is part of a series of books written with the support of mental health experts to support children to cope with natural disasters and other big life events.

It is available in a range of community languages, including English, Arabic, Hindi, Chinese and more.

Read more.

About CELA

Community Early Learning Australia is a not for profit organisation with a focus on amplifying the value of early learning for every child across Australia - representing our members and uniting our sector as a force for quality education and care.

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