Fire-hit kids continue to heal

Written By miftah nugraha on Senin, 29 Juli 2013 | 19.55

TASMANIAN children identified as distressed after the January bushfires have been offered further support.

Children have been assessed by mental health professionals engaged by beyondblue, which launched the program in Dunalley in April.

So far 212 had been assessed at three local schools and several in Hobart for ongoing trauma.

Of those, 26 had been identified as needing intervention and their parents have been offered free help for their children.

Parents of the remaining 186 were reassured their children were recovering well.

Beyondblue chief executive officer Kate Carnell said the professionals had identified children who had not recovered from the horror of the fires.

"Living through a natural disaster such as these bushfires can leave children traumatised and, without this early intervention, some may have gone years without getting the appropriate support, if they ever got it all," Ms Carnell said.

"Prolonged trauma can lead to depression and anxiety, and early intervention such as this significantly boosts the children's wellbeing and gives them the best chance to make a full recovery. It also gives parents peace of mind after they learn that either their child is recovering well or needs further treatment, which beyondblue provides for free."

Six sessions for parents were held in Dunalley, Nubeena and Dodges Ferry and parents were told about common emotional and behavioural responses in children and adolescents after a natural disaster.

Teachers have also been trained to help them identify difficulties.

The program was adapted from one that helped children after the 2011 Queensland floods.

The $650,000 cost is covered by $250,000 from beyondblue and the rest from the Red Cross Tasmanian Bushfire Appeal.

School visits are by professionals from the Kids in Mind unit at Brisbane's Mater Children's Hospital.

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