(How) do we interview children about the worst bushfires near Melbourne, Australia?
Colin MacDougall (Flinders University)
Lisa Gibbs (University of Melbourne)
Paper short abstract:
We ask not 'how', but 'do' we, interview children about their experiences of the worst bushfires in Melbourne Australia. This is to ensure our research into this traumatic event is ethical, does no harm, and to develop considered research to inform policy and practice about children’s recovery.
Paper long abstract:
On 7th February 2009 a bushfire near Melbourne killed 173 people, orphaned 16 children and destroyed over 350 000 buildings and 2000 homes in 40 townships. Our team researches immediate effects of, and recovery from, the fires. Being committed to rights based research with children, we could start with the 'how' question - interview to discover rich information and use photography because this was useful in our first study of this much photographed event. Instead, we start with the 'do' question because of the public health dictum of first do no harm, our reflective practice of considering all alternatives, and our first review of literature that provided surprisingly little guidance about ethics or harm. The poster outlines how we are using a seeding grant to understand the ethical and methodological issues involved in considering the experience and recovery needs of children and young people. We know that some bushfire related services, for example school access and funding for orphans, have been provided and that there is no information about children from their own perspectives. We are engaging experts to critically review the evidence base and then, in collaboration with relevant government, community and fire-related organizations, to develop research proposals to monitor child-related policies and services. Then, and only if ethically appropriate, we will develop a child-centered approach to understanding children and young people's experiences and recovery needs. This poster outlines why the 'do' in the title is more complex than the 'how'.