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Disaster Nesponse Network News

February 2012

  1. Welcome
  2. Queensland Disaster Training for psychologists – February 24th, 25th 2012
  3. Helping children to prepare for disasters
  4. DRN members making connections in Japan
  5. Japanese translation of the APS/ARC Psychological First Aid Guide
  6. New resources on the disaster portal
  7. Australasian Conference of Child Trauma, 4-6 July, 2012
  8. Contact us


Dear [firstname,fallback=Sir/Madam],

Over the past seven years, the start of the year has often been marked by natural disasters.  This January we had some respite, although as I write, parts of QLD and NSW are flooding, WA is suffering through a heat-wave, Victoria has had a few bushfires, and we are reminded that extreme weather threats are ever present. 

In this newsletter we bring your attention to a new resource on helping children to prepare for extreme weather, an update on some DRN volunteers’ work in Japan, and a reminder of some upcoming psychosocial recovery workshops in Queensland.

If you have useful information that you would like us to include in DRN News, please send it to drn@psychology.org.au.

Dr Susie Burke
Public Interest, Environment and Disaster Response

Queensland Disaster Training for psychologists – February 24th, 25th 2012

Queensland Health Level 3 workshops - Treating significant mental health issues.

Queensland Health continues to roll out level 2 (Skills for Psychological Recovery – I day) and level 3 (Clinical Interventions 2 day) workshops for health professionals in disaster-affected regions in Queensland. 

All of these workshops will be delivered via Queensland Health by experts in disaster-related trauma.

The next level 3 Clinical Interventions workshops that are being offered will run on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th February, 2012 in Brisbane, and is being run through General Practice Queensland. The training involves a two day workshop and a brief online self-assessment module three months later. The training is for experienced mental health professionals working with flood and cyclone affected adults who have developed psychological problems and diagnosable mental health conditions. The workshop will cover evidence-based practice strategies for high prevalence problems such as traumatic stress, anxiety, grief and depression.

Specifically it includes:
• psychoeducation
• cognitive strategies
• arousal management strategies
• behavioural activation
• coping strategies for complicated grief
• exposure interventions
• relapse prevention.

There is no cost for the training, but places are limited, so if you are interested, book soon!

For more information about the training, please contact Allira Power on (07) 3105 8300 or via email at apower@gpqld.com.au.

Helping children to prepare for disasters

With floods, cyclones, severe storms and bushfires all on the radar around Australia over summer, it is good practice for psychologists to familiarise themselves with disaster preparation guides, and to help spread this information through their contacts and communities where possible. 
A new Triple P survival guide has been produced by the University of Queensland, as described below.  I’ve also included links to a couple of the APS brochures, as well as a Red Cross Guide, and outlined some of the ways in which these guides differ from each other.  Together, they provide quite comprehensive guidance.

Preparing for Bad Weather Triple P Survival Guide

The Child and Adolescent Disaster Response and the University of Queensland have come together to develop the Preparing for Bad Weather Triple P Survival Guide. The guide, which has just been launched, is based on the Triple P Positive Parenting Program, and is a free resource that assists parents with helping their children to feel prepared, not scared, as another bad weather season approaches. It includes a tip sheet, a video presentation and a podcast. Here is the web address https://experiment.psy.uq.edu.au/prepqld/preparing.html

The Triple P guide has a very cognitive focus, and emphasises the following aspects of good preparation with children:

  • Importance of emotional resilience
  • Encouraging children to name emotions
  • Holding family meetings to discuss family plans
  • Teaching children how to realistically appraise the threat of extreme weather
  • Reassuring children that parents and other adults are in charge

Preparing children for the threat of Bushfire and Cyclone APS brochure

The Australian Psychological Society brochures on preparing children for disasters have a focus on the following aspects of psychological preparedness:

  • Involving children in making plans and physical preparations
  • Practising the plan with children
  • Preparing yourself psychologically and then teaching children the same skills
  • Talking with children about what it might be like during a disaster (thoughts, feelings, sights, sounds)
  • Teaching children to notice physical warning signs of strong feelings
  • Teaching children to notice unhelpful self-talk
  • Teaching children breathing exercises, and helpful self-talk to calm down

How to talk to children – Australian Red Cross Guide

The Red Cross, as part of their Emergency RediPlan products, have a parents’ guide on talking to children about preparing for emergencies.  Their tips include:

  • Talking about the effects of an emergency
  • Teaching children how and when to call for help
  • Enlisting children’s help in putting together an emergency kit

These resources and others are available on the Early Trauma Grief website hosted by the Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network (ACATLGN): These resources can also be found on the disaster portal at http://www.psid.org.au/prepare.

DRN members making connections in Japan

In our April 2011 newsletter we told you about a contact we had made with an APS member from Japan who, in the days following the earthquake and tsunami, was seeking resources and support in working with Japanese people who have been through such a disaster. Since then, three of our members have been in ongoing contact with her, both via phone and email, and meeting up on trips to Japan.

Slowly and carefully, the Japanese APS member, Yoko, and Australian DRN colleagues have been respectfully building connections with other psychologists in the region, seeking ways to offer support in the overwhelming task of recovery and rebuilding.  The Japanese psychologists they met in Fukushima province were very interested in discussing their work with volunteer workers in Japan. 

Front: Yoko, Lyn and Yumi, 2011
Lyn, one of the APS volunteers, had the following anecdotes to relate:  “The greatest challenge for me was not being able to speak Japanese.  At one stage, the Japanese psychologist was translating a conversation I was having with another psychologist and she became confused and started speaking Japanese to me and English to her Japanese colleague.  The stunned look on her face when we both started laughing at her was priceless; it was a great icebreaker”

“The image that stays in my mind from Yamada is one of an old man walking around in the rubble.  His purpose is to tell anyone he meets how beautiful Yamada was to try and stop people forgetting.  I don’t think the media conveys how beautiful these towns were before the tsunami.  It reminded me of the area on the Victorian coast.  We discussed with the Japanese psychologists how important it seemed for the residents to share the beauty of the affected areas with others to manage the fear of being forgotten.”

The sad remains of a little girl’s bedroom

Japanese translation of the APS/ARC Psychological First Aid Guide

As a result of the connections our DRN members have been making with psychologists living and working in a badly earthquake-affected region of Japan, the APS and Red Cross have begun to consider translating some of our disaster resources to make them more accessible.  Feedback from Japan identified the basic psychosocial recovery materials as most useful at this stage.  To this end, we are currently translating the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide into Japanese.  This translation is available on the PSID website at http://www.psid.org.au/response.

New resources on the disaster portal

We continue to provide links to new disaster resources through the disaster portal www.psid.org.au.  You will find several recent additions on psychological preparedness at  

Australasian Conference of Child Trauma, 4-6 July, 2012

The theme of this year’s conference, “Connected by Trauma: Research, Response,
Recovery” invites participants to discover and contemplate how new advances in brain
science, innovations in service delivery, education, program consultation, clinical assessment/treatment and research, are improving the lives of infants, young people, families and communities affected by Trauma.

The Scientific Program Committee invites submission of abstracts for oral papers, symposia or poster presentations.  They welcome submissions from all sectors and professionals.
Symposia – will consist of up to 4 papers on a related theme/ topic along with a discussant.
Oral presentations – will be allocated 20 minutes in concurrent sessions.
Posters – will be displayed in the main break out area and time will be allocated for short presentations.

All abstracts should be submitted online at: www.acoct.com. The closing date for abstract
submission is 20 March 2012.

Contact us

If you have feedback on DRN News, or useful information or suggestions that you would like us to include in DRN News, please contact us at drn@psychology.org.au.

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