Helping communities build resilience in children during a time of considerable upheaval

Online public forum: Bushfires and Pandemics: How to Support Child Wellbeing

Thursday 18 June 2020, 4.00–5.00pm

– Register today and submit questions now or feel free to ask them on the day.

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Image: Brothers OnFire

Image: Brothers OnFire

The past six months has seen Australians confront a catastrophic bushfire season followed immediately by a once-in-a-generation pandemic. Many children – particularly in regional Victoria and New South Wales – witnessed bushfires firsthand while others have seen images in the news of homes destroyed and livelihoods lost and now the effects of Covid 19 here and around the world. With so much disruption, what can parents and guardians, teachers and allied health professionals do to create supportive communities and build resilience and optimism in our children?

To help address this question, mental health, child health, education and disaster-recovery experts will engage in a panel discussion at a free public forum (held via Zoom) presented by the University of Melbourne, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, and Melbourne Graduate School of Education.

The panel discussion will be followed by an audience Q&A session in which we'd like to hear from young people, parents and guardians, teachers and allied health workers in the audience about their challenges, concerns and on-the-ground experiences.

Co-hosts

Professor Shitij Kapur
Professor Shitij Kapur
Shitij is the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences and Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Health), University of Melbourne. Shitij is a clinician-scientist with expertise in psychiatry, neuroscience and brain imaging.
Dr Jim Watterston
Professor Jim Watterston
Jim is the Dean of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne. He was a teacher and principal before progressing to senior executive roles in the Victorian and Queensland education departments. His contribution to education has been acknowledged with a number of awards including the highly prestigious Order of the Palmes Académiques (Chevalier) by the French Government.

Panelists

Young people with bushfire experiences

Professor Lisa Gibbs
Professor Lisa Gibbs
Lisa is the Director of the Child and Community Wellbeing Program in the Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne and Lead of Community Resilience in the Centre for Disaster Management and Public Safety. Lisa leads public health research relating to two main fields: 1) disaster recovery and community resilience, including leadership of the Beyond Bushfires study and 2) child health and wellbeing. These two fields intersect through her research on child resilience. She is committed to working in partnership with key stakeholders to ensure the relevance of her research, translating into direct policy and practice outcomes.
Professor Helen Cahill
Professor Helen Cahill
Helen leads research into the use of participatory methods to investigate youth wellbeing, sexuality, mental health, gender and youth leadership. She has authored many wellbeing education programs for use in Australian schools and community settings in the Asia-Pacific region. She leads a suite of research projects variously investigating resilience, social and emotional learning, and the prevention of gender-based violence.
Jane Nursey
Jane Nursey
Jane is a Clinical Neuropsychologist who has 28 years’ experience in the field of posttraumatic mental health, working in the public hospital and not-for-profit sectors as a clinician, manager, trainer and director of mental health programs. She has developed and delivered training programs on disaster response and recovery to a range of health, educational, government and first responder audiences.  She co-ordinated a DHHS funded state-wide psychological trauma service in response to the Black Saturday bushfires and has been involved in longitudinal research looking at the long-term outcomes of this event.  She is Currently Director of the Centenary of Anzac Practitioner Support Service at Phoenix Australia.
Andrew Coghlan
Andrew Coghlan
Andrew is the National Manager, Head of Emergency Services with Australian Red Cross, overseeing the national Emergency Services function and ensuring Australian Red Cross' ability to promote resilience and build community capacity, both in preparation for and response to disasters throughout Australia. Andrew played a pivotal role in the establishment of both the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities, and the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience, and has also contributed to the development of the IFRC Global Resilience Strategy.