Stormbirds – growing from natural disasters

This program supports children aged 6-14 years to cope with change, loss and grief after natural disasters.

  • Tier: Tier 2: Early Intervention and Cohort Specific Support
  • Type of intervention: Disaster, grief and loss programs
  • Strength of evidence: Level 3: Foundational and emerging evidence for program
  • Geographic location: Statewide

Program description

Stormbirds is a program designed to support children and young people to adapt to experiences of change, loss and grief resulting from natural disasters. It is a small group program catering for students aged 6-14 years, that consists of four-hour long sessions.

The small group peer learning uses a range of age-appropriate activities and creates a safe space for young people to practice new ways of thinking and responding to the loss that has happened in their lives. Stormbirds also builds professional knowledge within school communities, allowing them to respond to the needs of their students, build knowledge and support networks.

Stormbirds training builds the knowledge of school staff to deliver the program to students enabling the school to offer the small groups on ongoing basis

Intended outcomes

  • Positive adaptation to experiences of change and loss and knowledge that change will occur again
  • Regaining emotional stability
  • Establish positive connections between previous and current life
  • Show positive choices and decision making
  • Adjust to the experiences of change and loss
  • Improved wellbeing.

Program details

Target audience
  • Primary school students - lower
  • Primary school students - upper
  • Secondary school students - lower
  • Secondary school students - upper
Program providerMacKillop Family Services
Delivery mode
  • Face-to-face
  • Online
  • Combination of face-to-face and online

*Combined delivery is available on request.

Implementation considerations

  • Target population: Children and young people aged 6-14 years who have experienced a natural disaster.
  • Program adaptability: MacKillop's programs allow for flexible delivery and activities to support those with low literacy levels, disabilities, culturally diverse backgrounds to meet individual needs. There have been additions and adaptations made to the program for specific context and needs.
  • Staffing: The program is facilitated by a Companion. Companions are trained and provided with access to an online portal with additional information and resources to support delivery including a Communities of Practice. Professionals based in schools with qualifications and skills to work with students are appropriate to be trained as companions.
  • Training requirements: Companion training can be provided online or face-to-face. Trainees must attend the whole 2 days training.
  • Factors to consider: There is a minimum of 15 for face-to-face Companion training. The program allows for 4-7 participants per group.
  • Australian context: This program has been developed, evaluated and applied in Australia. This program has been used in response to bushfires, flooding and COVID lockdowns in Australia.


Item cost


Detailed cost

Stormbirds training for a group of 15 participants including Facilitator Manual and resources for 4 small groups of students is $19,140 (inc. GST).

Companions can purchase additional student materials ongoing at a cost of $14 inc. GST per student journal.