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 Bushfire Education webpages aim 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 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.
The Bushfire Education website was 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 Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF) outcomes or the new Victorian Curriculum F–10. In 2021, the Bushfire Education website was migrated onto the VCAA website.
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:
- link each particular session to the relevant curriculum area
- set out a specific learning intentions
- list suggested resources to support teaching and learning
- sequence the learning activities as '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.
The Bushfire Education webpages draw 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:
- 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 these webpages.
Potential for discomfort or distress
There is potential for discomfort or distress among some learners when talking, viewing and reading about bushfires. The 2009 and 2019–20 Victorian bushfires in particular were traumatic events for many in the Victorian community. Teachers should preview, adapt and manage the teaching and learning activities and resources with respect to the particular needs and backgrounds of their learners.
Information about where schools can access a range of student support services can be found on the Department of Education and Training's
Student Support Services webpages.