Australian Fires: supporting your kids at this unpredictable time

Hi Canteen Connect Parent community, We wanted to acknowledge the bushfires burning around Australia at the moment, and check in with you to see how you’re being impacted. These kind of events can feel really overwhelming, unpredictable and out of control. We're aware that for lots of families here, the fires are happening/have happened in your local towns, and/or around the people that are important to you... at a time when life is already complicated by cancer.

Here’s some ideas for dealing with the bushfires: · Many of you will have already created your bushfire survival plan. You can read more about these here: https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/bush-fire-survival-plan

· Make sure you are taking care of yourself with how much you’re reading/watching about the fires. We have access to so much information thanks to technology, but sometimes we need to take a step back, so we can refocus, and not feel overloaded. Chatting with your kids about taking these "breaks" from the news can be a really good opportunity to also check in on how they are feeling/coping.

· Kids Helpline are available 24/7 via phone, webchat and email, if your kids want to talk to a counsellor about the impact of the fires specifically (right up to 25 years of age) - their number is 1800 55 1800, or kidshelpline.com.au. Of course, Lifeline is available for you too, on 13 11 14. Headspace also have a great info page about Coping With Natural Disasters for young people: https://headspace.org.au/young-people/how-to-cope-with-the-stress-of-natural-disasters/ Or Beyond Blue have a brochure for adults: http://resources.beyondblue.org.au/prism/file?token=BL/0447

· There are tips that can help support your physical health, some as simple as staying indoors. Check in with your hospital/GP team if you have specific concerns around how smoke/heat/evacuation in your local area will impact you or someone in your family going through treatment. More generally, read more about managing exposure to smoke here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2019-11-19/bushfire-smoke-health-managing-risks/11699894

Let us know your thoughts and if you have any other tips for coping with the fires. Please take care and stay safe.