Fire & Flood Resilience02 Feb 2023

Inspiring climate action in future leaders: Students learn how to get ahead of natural disasters

Students at St Monica’s Primary Richmond, NSW have been gaining valuable experience, undertaking disaster resilience and preparation lessons in the face of more frequent and extreme climate conditions.

Over 53,000 students in primary and secondary schools across Australia are learning about disaster resilience as part of a new program by Minderoo Foundation which makes lesson plans available to teachers via online education platform, Cool Australia.

Since the start of the year, more than half of Australia’s local government areas have been hit by 40 natural disasters, affecting over 16 million people.

Students from St Monica’s Primary Richmond in NSW have gained valuable knowledge on what it takes to prepare for disasters.

Melissa Beggs, Principal at St Monica’s Primary Richmond said, “Our region has experienced a number of floods so far this year and many students have observed the devastating impact caused by the Black Summer bushfires around the neighbouring Blue Mountains region.

“Students are interested in how they can adapt to our changing climate – whether that be preparing the community for a disaster, building resilience to natural disasters or understanding how to better predict fires among many others. It’s great to see our students being more aware and informed about natural disasters and hopefully they can share what they’ve learned with others too,” added Ms Beggs.

St Monica’s Primary Richmond is currently one of 244 schools across Australia and New Zealand, even as far away as Uruguay, undertaking the resilience lessons, with nearly 3,000 downloads of the content.

Minderoo Foundation’s Fire and Flood Resilience initiative is working to lift the resilience of Australia’s 50 most vulnerable communities to be on par with the most resilient.

Matthew Chesnais, Resilient Communities Mission Lead, Minderoo Foundation’s Fire and Flood Resilience said “Young people as our future leaders, play a critical role in building long-term disaster resilience. These lessons provide students with the knowledge, skills and understanding to help them take appropriate actions before, during and after an emergency or disaster. We hope they can discuss what they’ve learned at home with their loved ones, so it becomes front of mind for families as well.”

Jarryd Bendall, Education Specialist at Cool Australia, believes the lessons can equip young people with the skills and traits needed to remain resilient to natural disasters, such as leadership and social and emotional well-being.

“By creating these resources in consultation with experts in the field of resilience, mental health and planning for natural disasters, we’ve focused on ensuring students have relevant, age-appropriate, up-to-date and practical learning they can implement immediately and use to play an active role in building community resilience and preparedness in the face of events like fires and floods.”

A further 10 lesson plans are being developed covering indigenous cultural resilience in the face of increasing natural disasters, which will cover topics such as indigenous land management practices like cool burning.

Two professional development courses have also proven to be popular with teachers since their launch. Each of which supports teachers in expanding their practice and ensuring this content is delivered in the most effective way possible.

The long-term goal is for the lessons to be integrated into state curriculums.

Minderoo Foundation
by Minderoo Foundation

Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.

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