Tuning in to traumatised kids

09 March 2011

published by www.whittlesea-leader.whereilive.com.au


Australia -- WHITTLESEA Primary School’s new chaplain Peter Ackland will provide essential support services for students three days a week.

Principal Bente Stock said although the Black Saturday bushfires were two years ago, the memories of that tragic day were etched on the young minds of her students.

“I was on yard duty one day (recently) and someone was burning off on the mountain, and that was enough to trigger memories of the fires for one little boy,” Ms Stock said.

“He said, ‘the fire’s coming Ms Stock, the fire’s coming.’

“We have to be so tuned in to the children. We have to notice when they’ve had a haircut, when they’re not smiling.

“You never know what’s going to trigger trauma in a young child.”

Ms Stock said numerous students needed extra support last year.

One parent reported signs of withdrawal and distress from her child this year.

Mr Ackland is one of just two male staff at the primary school and will become an important role model, especially for the boys.

He is able to work three days a week, thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers on the chaplaincy committee.

Committee secretary Cheryl Abbott said the Federal Government paid for two of the chaplain’s working days, and the community funded the third.