Young people from communities affected by the Black Summer Bushfires have designed and developed resources to ensure they are included in future disaster response, recovery and rebuilding efforts.

After raising concerns about young people being left behind, Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic), the peak body for young people and the youth sector, has worked with the Victorian Government to consult with, support and include young people and community members in the response to and recovery from the Black Summer bushfires that swept across eastern Victoria.

Download the resource: A Seat at the Table

Download the report: Speaking Up

At the launch of the report and resources designed to inform and support impacted communities, Katherine Ellis, CEO of YACVic says including young people and valuing their contributions is key to building a sustainable future.

“Young people’s unique perspectives, and creative and innovative ideas make stronger and more resilient communities,” says Ms Ellis.

“Young people’s lives have been severely impacted by the bushfires and then COVID-19, so it’s critical that we all play a role in making sure their voices are heard, and they have a seat at the decision-making tables’ for disaster preparedness, response and recovery.”

 A Seat at the Table resource is a guide for communities to engage and include young people effectively and meaningfully across all aspects of disaster recovery, and is based upon recommendations in the Speaking Up report, which documents young people’s experience of the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires and recommendations moving forward.  

The resource and report were led by YACVic’s Bushfire Recovery Working Group consisting of 12 young people aged 12-25, living across rural and regional towns in  eastern Victoria impacted by the 2019-20 fires.

Case Study: Faith Perry, school student, Sarsfield and YACVic Bushfire Recovery Working Group member

After her community in Sarsfield lost 50 homes to the horrific bushfires, Faith Perry took part in the Sarsfield Snaps project, which gave young people a chance to express themselves by taking photos of their everyday life and explore the natural environment.

“We are part of the population and have valuable contributions to make. We should be part of the decision making about us.”

Case Study: Quinn Obran, university student, Corryong and YACVic Bushfire Recovery Working Group member

Quinn was born and raised in Corryong, living a somewhat mundane life there until 2019- 2020 when she, and many others had to face first hand the devastation to which the bushfires caused.

“Young people were there, they were at the centre of this disaster. Yet in a lot of cases we’ve not been given a seat at the table on community recovery committees.”

To find out more about our bushfire recovery work, visit: yacvic.org.au/bushfire-recovery

Media Contact: Thomas Feng, YACVic Media and Communications Manager, 0431 285 275, or tfeng@yacvic.org.au for interviews with YACVic.

Young people from bushfire affected communities are available for interview. Derm Ryan, YACVic Rural Manager and Carla Hall, YACVic Rural Youth Projects Co-ordinator are also available for interview.

About Youth Affairs Council Victoria

Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) is the peak body and leading advocate for young people aged 12–25 and youth workers in Victoria. Our vision is that young people are active, visible and valued in their communities.