We offer heartfelt thanks to the Wollongong Diocese for all their support during the bushfires and floods that devastated the south coast over summer. While we may not always see eye to eye, the care and support the diocese offered to students and staff has been exceptional.
The outgoing Director of Schools, Peter Turner, the incoming Director, Peter Hill, and Bishop Brian Mascord took time out from their busy schedules to visit schools on the south coast. Their presence was affirming and meant a lot to staff.
Many schools were coated in ash or littered with debris from the fires, and the diocese ensured this was washed away so students returned to clean schools. Counsellors were on site for staff, students and members of the school community affected by the fires.
Teachers and staff were given strategies and training to assist students and families. Bushfire Response Teams have been set up to help co-ordinate schools efforts.
The trauma of the fires will remain for some time within the school communities. The rains have helped bring colour back to the area; however, children continue to respond to sirens, the smell of smoke, or the wind shifting.
Finally, a huge thank you to the IEU for offering a timely online professional development course, ‘Responding to bushfire trauma’, and for offering consistent support to members during these difficult times.