Seven months on, kids still suffering flood anxiety

Queensland children could still be concerned about the floods seven months after the deluge that affected Brisbane, according to a leading child development expert.

Queensland University of Technology early childhood Professor Susan Danby (pictured) said the January floods had increased the risk of anxiety in children.

“The floods raised real issues of uncertainty and unpredictability for them,” she said.

“Things that were comfortable and predictable are now uncomfortable and unpredictable.”

She warned the loss of homes, treasures and personal space could lead to long-term anxiety like avoiding sleepovers or anxiety when it rained.

But the floods did not affect just one particular age group.

It was not so much about age groups as it was about the circumstances families found themselves in and how badly flood affected they were.

“Some of the kids were quite affected even though their homes weren’t flooded,” she said.

“It’s not just the kids who have been affected. The whole family has been destabilised.”

She said one of the best ways to combat this instability was to participate in regular, everyday, community activities.

The work Brisbane City Council had done to reinstate public space was vital

“To get the sports clubs up and running again is, I think, a really wise strategy to help kids,” she said.

In March, the then Lord Mayor Campbell Newman announced an $11.8 million package that would help to repair damage to Brisbane community and sporting groups after the floods.

In a recent Brisbane City Council meeting, chairman of the Brisbane lifestyle committee Councillor Geraldine Knapp said the grants, including a one-off $5000 payment, would combat children’s traumatic flood experiences.

“Some sense of normalcy can in some ways allow you to de-stress,” she said.

But Professor Danby stressed the importance of support services available for children, including teachers, school counsellors and helplines.

Kids Helpline general manager Wendy Protheroe said the floods led to an increase in calls in January.

“During the Australian floods Kids Helpline experienced a 50 percent increase in phone calls, web chats and emails,” she said.

“It is particularly important that children have access to these essential counselling services.”

The Kids Helpline can be contacted on 1800 55 1800.

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