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About the Bushfire Education Resource

Rationale and aim

The purpose of the Bushfire Education webpages is to provide teaching and learning resources to support bushfire education for primary and secondary schools. Based on the four themes of learning about, preparing for, responding to, and recovering from bushfires, the aim of the Bushfire Education webpages is to better prepare all young Australians for the challenges of living in a country that regularly experiences bushfires.

While the central focus of the webpages is about bushfires, educators should note that some of the material also includes resources that covers fire behaviour, fire safety, and other types of fires such as grass and coastal fires.

Background

The Bushfire Education website were established by the Victorian government in response to Recommendation 6 of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. The Royal Commission was tasked to investigate the causes and responses to the devastating bushfires that swept through parts of Victoria in late January and February 2009, culminating in the tragic events that became known as the 'Black Saturday' fires.

Recommendation 6 of the Bushfires Royal Commission's final report called for Victoria to lead an initiative to ensure that the national curriculum incorporated the history of bushfire in Australia, and that existing curriculum areas include elements of bushfire education.

The first iteration of the Bushfire Education website was launched in 2011. In 2015, an extensive review of all aspects of the website was undertaken by the VCAA, with input from the Victorian fire services. The outcome of the review resulted in changes to the website's navigational structure, functionality and content, with all teaching and learning activities being updated and aligned to either the relevant VEYLDF outcomes or the new Victorian Curriculum F-10.  In 2021, the Bushfire Education website was migrated onto the VCAA website.

Structure

The Bushfire Education webpages are organised to support the learning needs of students from Year 1 through to Year 8. All bushfire education teaching and learning activities have been aligned to the Victorian Curriculum F-10.

Each module is structured around the four themes of learning about bushfires, preparing for bushfires, responding to bushfires, and recovering from bushfires. Each theme is explored through individual sessions that

  • links a particular session to the relevant curriculum area
  • sets out specific learning intentions
  • lists suggested resources to support its teaching and learning
  • sequences the learning activities with 'starting', 'exploring', 'bringing it all together', and 'extending'.

Some themes, such as 'Preparing for Bushfires' and 'Recovering from Bushfires', may be more relevant in particular contexts. For example, in bushfire-prone areas, students may have directly experienced planning for bushfires, an actual bushfire and/or what happens after a bushfire. In these contexts, students are more likely to have prior knowledge and understanding about key concepts. Educators should carefully consider the themes and sessions that are most appropriate for their students, communities and contexts, including the potential for discomfort or distress, and adapt teaching materials to best suit their particular environment and the needs and abilities of their learners.

Acknowledgments

The Bushfire Education webpages draws extensively on the work of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, and in particular on evidence given to the Commission by experts and lay witnesses whose lives, the Commission notes, were turned upside down by the fires. The VCAA acknowledges and thanks them for their valuable contributions to this resource.

The VCAA would also like to acknowledge the work of the organisations that assisted us in developing and refining this resource, in particular the  

  • Country Fire Authority (Victoria)
  • Metropolitan Fire Brigade (Melbourne)
  • Emergency Management Australia

Finally, the VCAA express its sincere thanks to all the individuals who have generously permitted the inclusion of their images, stories, and teaching and learning ideas on the webpages.

 

Potential for discomfort or distress

All educators need to be aware that there is potential for discomfort or distress among some learners when talking, viewing and reading about bushfires. The 2009 Victorian bushfires especially were traumatic events for many in the Victorian community, and teachers need to preview, adapt and manage the teaching and learning activities and resources with respect to the particular needs and backgrounds of their learners.

Further information where schools can access a range of student support services can be found on the Department of Education and Training's Health and Wellbeing Services website.

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