The Banksia Initiative is an informal cross disciplinary alliance of researchers, educators and artists providing information, strategies and resources to support classroom teachers and communities in recovery from the bushfires.

The Initiative was formed in January 2020 from a shared understanding of the international evidence confirming the vital role schools play in individual, community and national recovery from disaster.

We believe that Arts informed approaches provide powerful methods to restore individual, community and national wellbeing during and after disaster and that participatory arts-based methods strengthen social support and help people to build critical hope.

The Bushfires have impacted all Australians in different ways and some with particular intensity.

Every teacher needs to consider how the impact of the crisis will affect the learning of their students.

The Initiative includes specialists in school recovery, general education, curriculum and pedagogy, arts education, health and wellbeing, trauma response, disaster recovery and youth and adolescent health.

A steering group from Central Queensland University, the Universities of Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland, the National Advocates for Arts Education(NAAE) and UNESCO NZ sub commission has developed and / or curated these resources to provide Australian teachers with trusted, research-informed and practical advice to support their return to school in 2020.

After fire, the banksia emerges from crisis with new life . As a metaphor of our work it provides a way for us to talk about the possibility for hope, beauty and the wonder of the arts to strengthen communities and regenerate their environments in the midst of disaster. It reminds us of the natural regeneration that is possible.

The 3 Rs, recovery, rebuild and reimagine harness the key activities within post disaster work with ‘reimagine’ speaking directly to the power of  the Arts. It reminds us of the power and possibility of asking What if…


Eungella Queensland – Creative Recovery One Year On 

It has been one year since bushfires devastated the Eungella region for 20 days in November 2018. As part of a range of an ongoing disaster recovery project Eungella State School students have created two felt murals of the fires and their effects. One, created by students in Years three to six, depicted the fires. The second, used as The Banksia Initiative image, was created by Prep to Year three students and represents the upper Pioneer Valley one year on. To develop these works the whole school discussed the project and last year’s fire events. The younger students then created a piece one year and how some of the environment is regenerating and recovering. The older students created a piece as an historic record of the fires. The addition of the helicopter came from the students who felt this was a really important aspect of the story for them. Other workshops and activities are ongoing.

Artists in Residence – Lisa Roebig-Holmes and Wanda Bennett.

Image credit – Lisa Roebig-Holmes

Thanks to funding partners for this creative recovery project: Central Queensland Regional Arts Services Network & CQUniversity, Regional Arts Development Fund and Commonwealth/State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.