Kids still traumatised by YasiKids still traumatised by Yasi

Kids still traumatised by Yasi

Tropical Cyclone Yasi may be past history for most, but the impact of this devastating event is still a reality for many north Queensland residents.

In Cardwell, for example, students at the local school are being closely monitored for ongoing effects of trauma. Thanks to P&C committee president, David Mair, you can help children continue to recover by purchasing a DVD, which was launched in July 2012.

Children who lived through the terror of Cyclone Yasi have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, while others are at risk of developing the mental illness.

Almost 18 months after the monster category five storm lashed the North Queensland coast, pyschologists have warned that children were still reliving the nightmare they endured as they bunkered down over the night of February 2-3, 2011.

In Cardwell, at least one in three children have been identified as at risk of developing PTSD, resulting in implementation of a counselling program used to help children after the 2009 Victorian Black Friday.

"Some of these children saw horrific things," Cardwell State School principal Brigitte Mackenzie said.

Townsville psychologist Rosanna Tremewan said children who had been through trauma risked developing PTSD as, unlike adults, they cannot "reason" their way out of the worrying thoughts they are experiencing. "Adults can make sense of trauma, but kids don't have those skills," she said.

Ms Tremewan said children needed stability in their lives to function at a normal level. An event like Category 5 Cyclone Yasi removed that stability and turned young lives upside down, particularly in the worst-affected towns of Cardwell, Tully and Mission Beach, where homes and belongings were destroyed. "They need that stability of school, friends and home life. This helps them develop and get on with their lives," Ms Tremewan said.

She said the slow pace of recovery after the cyclone in towns north of Townsville would have meant that children were, and in many cases still are, walking past houses that were blown down in the cyclone. Seeing those broken houses, the polytarp on the roofs and the trees with the shattered branches served as a constant reminder of the cyclone.

"Kids need predictability. They need routine in their lives. When they lose it they become anxious. It means they have to learn a new set of rules and this in itself produces anxiety," she said.

The school is still closely monitoring students and offering extra counselling to students before their condition worsens. P&C committee president David Mair this week launched a three-and-a-half hour DVD at the school entitled Yasi - Reflections of a Monster, in a bid to help young minds heal.

It features some 20,000 photographs highlighting the destruction Yasi wrought in Townsville, Cardwell and Tully.
The DVD costs $20 with proceeds used for children's counselling and funds for the school. Contact Mr Mair on for a copy.