FAIRFIELD — International humanitarian organization Save the Children, based in Fairfield, has established Child Friendly Spaces to support displaced families in communities affected by the devastating wildfires ravaging large parts of Australia. The spaces, located in Wagga Wagga in southern New South Wales and in Bairnsdale in eastern Victoria, will provide support and relief to children and families in the surrounding areas affected by the wildfires.

“As Australians in New South Wales and Victoria brace for another bout of extreme weather, Save the Children is joining the response by setting up Child Friendly Spaces in evacuation centers,” said Save the Children CEO Janti Soeripto.

“We know that children are most vulnerable during times of disaster and crisis and what we’re dealing with here is a crisis on an unprecedented scale. The traumatic effect of what they’ve seen and lived through cannot be underestimated.”

“These Child Friendly Spaces help children cope by giving them somewhere to be children again. They can draw, play games and socialize with other children in a safe and supportive environment.

“Importantly they can begin to process their experiences, which is critical to helping recovery and building resilience. It also allows parents to do the important things like access support, recover possessions and deal with administrative matters.”

“We have an amazing group of dedicated staff who bring a fantastic set of skills at a time like this. We’re proud to be able to support children whose lives have been turned upside down by the wildfires.”

At the Child Friendly Spaces, trained, qualified early childhood specialists provide opportunities for children (generally aged 0-12 years) to play and socialize in a safe and supported environment. Save the Children also supports families by linking them to other complimentary services, while giving parents opportunities to recover and the time to begin to address the significant changes in their lives.

Save the Children had established Child Friendly Spaces at evacuation centers in New South Wales and the Adelaide Hills in South Australia this past summer. In addition, in 2019, Child Friendly Spaces were set up in the wake of Cyclone Trevor in the Northern Territory, the Townsville floods in Far North Queensland and the wildfires of the Huon Valley in Tasmania.