Stormbirds Program

Stormbirds is an education program that supports children and young people to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to understand and manage experiences of change and loss following natural disasters.

What is Stormbirds?

Stormbirds is a small group education program that supports the recovery of children and young people in response to change, loss and uncertainty that often results from natural disasters. These events include storms, floods, bushfires, earthquakes, droughts, cyclones, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.

Stormbirds is generally offered to children and young people 3-12 months following a natural disaster. It provides an opportunity for children and young people to learn the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to understand and respond well to such experiences. The program is called ‘Stormbirds’ after a bird of the same name (also known as the eastern koel).

What are the learning outcomes for children and young people?

Specifically, Stormbirds provides a safe learning environment for children and young people to:

  • Acknowledge their experiences and recognise they are ‘not the only one’
  • Understand that their feelings and other behavioural reactions are normal
  • Develop skills for coping, positive choices, goal-setting and decision making
  • Build a peer support network and a felt sense of belonging and connection
  • Help restore self-confidence, self-esteem and self-respect

How is the Stormbirds program delivered?

Trained facilitators known as ‘Companions’ deliver the program for small groups of 4-7 children and young people aged 6-14 years. The peer learning process creates a safe space for children and young people to practice new ways of thinking and responding to the change and loss that has occurred in their lives as a result of the natural disaster.

Stormbirds has two age-appropriate levels:

  • Level 1 (ages 6-10 years)
  • Level 2 (ages 11-14 years)

The program includes four formal sessions (60 minutes per session); one celebration session; and one optional reconnector session where participants can meet again to review their learning and discuss any issues that may have arisen since they completed the program. Each participant is provided with an activity journal to explore and complete throughout their Stormbirds journey.

The small group program is not designed to be used in one-on-one counselling, or as a large group program.

What do I need to deliver the Stormbirds program?

How is the Stormbirds program delivered?

Companions trained in the program are often professionals such as teachers, social workers, counsellors, psychologists, mental health workers, chaplains or those working in pastoral care.

Companions attend five hours of training which involves engaging with the evidence and theoretical foundations underpinning the program; and exploring the program content via an ‘inside out’ approach that immerses Companions in the key learning outcomes and activities. Trained Companions are supported with a comprehensive set of materials including manuals and participant journals and access to an online portal, communities of practice and professional development and support.

What are the steps to implement Stormbirds?

To facilitate a Stormbirds small group program, you must first attend our training. The following steps provide a guide to implementing the program in your community. Our team will support you along your Stormbirds journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

We offer five-hour online training workshops to upskill professionals who seek to companion Stormbirds. Please view our training page or contact us if you would like to arrange onsite group training for your school or organisation. Find out more information here.
Yes. When completing the training workshop, facilitators will be provided with an instructional manual and a set of journals that will support the delivery of Stormbirds for children and young people aged 6-14 years.  Prior to commencing a group, Companions will need to ensure they have the journals for the small group participants. The journals are available on our resources page.
As a trained Companion, you are supported with a comprehensive set of materials including manuals and participant journals and access to an online portal, implementation planning, communities of practice and professional development.  All Companions are encouraged to seek formal program accreditation which requires them to not only train but also to implement the program, attend a supplementary learning session and submit participant and self-evaluations.
Working in close partnership with Professor Anne Graham AO from the Centre for Children and Young People at Southern Cross University, additional resources have been developed to support communities impacted by severe weather events and natural disasters.  Please visit the resources page of the website to access these flyers, tip sheets and videos.
The MacKillop Seasons programs have supported more than 400,000 children, young people and adults in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Scotland, Ireland, England, and Wales.  An extensive evidence base for the efficacy of the programs has been established through high-quality research, evaluations, practitioner generated evidence and participant feedback throughout the history of the programs. Find out more here.
Yes. Stormbirds and the Seasons for Growth Children and Young Peoples programs are recognised as evidence-based programs in the state education wellbeing directories in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
MacKillop Seasons provides the training required for Companions to deliver our small group programs. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide details of where and when these groups are held, and we encourage you to enquire at your child’s school.

Stories and Outcomes

The most important thing I learned in my group was how to cope with change, adapt to change and find new ways to deal with change.

Stormbirds participant, six years old

Our People

Jeanie McDonnell

Jeanie McDonnell

Program Coordinator

Fiona Hart

Fiona Hart

Master Trainer

Louise Hall

Louise Hall

National and International Partnerships Lead

Godelieve Hofman-Verkuyl

Godelieve Hofman-Verkuyl

Disaster Recovery Lead

Get in touch with us to find out more

Fiona McCallum

Fiona McCallum

General Manager – Seasons for Growth Suite of Programs, Stormbirds, Seasons for Healing

Contact Us