Memory of the bushfires and the smoke may be fading but for many, particularly young children, they remain strong in the mind.
Psychologists say there's been a big jump in the number of parents seeking help for fearful children in the wake of the traumatic episodes, both in real life and as images on television screens.
In Canberra, some who work with children said that the recent smoke and fires had triggered associations with the 2003 bushfires in the ACT.
Child psychologist Kirrilie Smout said her organisation, "Developing Minds", was now dealing with 250 cases a week. Some children were worried that the fires would come for their home after seeing pictures on the news.
Some children were voicing concern about the fate of animals.
Opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, said there should be "a particular focus on the return to school in a few weeks' time", adding that children "might not be showing any impacts at the moment, but have taken in a huge crisis in their short lives".
One leading academic in child psychology and disasters was also worried. Professor Lisa Gibbs from Melbourne University's School of Population and Global Health said, "A significant minority will have ongoing issues".
She did an academic study after the 2008 Victorian bushfires and found that primary school children from the worst hit areas were more likely than similar children in unaffected areas lagged in both reading and maths.
"We knew from our ongoing work in the Black Saturday communities that anecdotally the school performance of kids was suffering, but there was no data to back that up," she said.
But we now have the data and a clear message that we need to be on the front foot in providing interventions to support ongoing learning in the wake of disasters."
With all this in mind, The Canberra Times gathered some of the best advice for parents.
What should you tell your children?
If your child has been indirectly affected, say by seeing traumatic pictures of injured animals, it's important to respond sensitively. The aim is to address an existing fear without causing one that wasn't there in the first place.
Steve Whisker who owns "Our Place Early Learning Googong" said it was important to understand the stage of development of your child. He said there was a risk of causing fear if the wrong information was given.
"Follow the child's lead," Kirrilie Smout, director of "Developing Minds", said.
"Most of the time, you wait for the child to lay the concern."
A concerned parent might ask a question once it becomes clear that the child and his or her friends are talking about the fires in some way. They might have seen a picture of a burnt koala on the news and the image is clearly distressing them.
A parent might ask, "Have you seen the fires?" and take the conversation from there.
What about the smoke in Canberra?
Some children were unnerved by the recent smoke. They might have heard adults talking about the 2003 bushfires.
Steve Whisker from the "Googong Our Place Early Learning Centre" said that older children could have the smoke explained to them so they didn't fear the imminence of fire. For younger children, that wasn't so easy.
"The image of the glowing red sun though the dark smoke filled sky may have triggered some traumatic memories of the 2003 bushfires for some families. It is important to respond with accurate information rather than reacting emotionally due to fear of past experiences," he said, adding that this was "easier said than done".
The image of the glowing red sun though the dark smoke filled sky may have triggered some traumatic memories of the 2003 bushfires for some families. It is important to respond with accurate information rather than reacting emotionally due to fear of past experiences.Steve Whisker, "Googong Our Place Early Learning Centre"
Reassurance is important
If a child starts to show fear that their own home could one day be destroyed by fire, reassure them that "we will stay safe", said Kirrilie Smout.
"Even if it happens we will stay together," is one of her suggestions for reassurance to a young child.
What about children who have been close to a bushfire?
The Australian Psychological Society has published a fact sheet which says, "Reactions to the trauma of the bushfires may result in changes to children's normal behaviour such as:
- Changes in their play, drawing, dreams or spontaneous conversations
- Regressive behaviour - children behaving younger than they normally do
- Nightmares and difficulty getting to sleep
- Anxiety about sleeping alone
- Irritability, tantrums or anger
- Fussy eating
- Wanting to stay close to a parent
- Problems concentrating at school
The advice is: "After a traumatic event, children need comfort, reassurance and support, and to know that they are safe and are being looked after.
"Try to spend more time with your children and provide them with plenty of affection through cuddles and hugs. Sometimes children can better express their feelings through play than through words, so make time to play with them. Let them be more dependent on you for a while and try to re-establish daily routines, for example routines around mealtimes, bedtimes or returning to school where possible."
Should children be protected from the worst images on the news?
Professor Lisa Gibbs of the University of Melbourne said that they should. "We don't recommend that they get to see news reports because they can be quite scary but parents should tell them what's going on," Professor Gibbs who is the director of the university's "Beyond Bushfires" study.
"Images on TV are a problem because they are confronting," she said.
On top of that, pictures on the news channels are repeated every hour and some children think that the event is being repeated, she said.
But it is important that parents tell children what's going on. "If they don't, children will fill in the gaps" - and they may fill in those gaps with even more frightening misinformation.
"It's best to share information with kids without visuals."
Steve Whisker of the Googong Our Place Earlky Learning Centre said that "screen time" should be rationed, anyway. It should be "with intention" - in other words, by a decision not as a blanket freedom - and appropriate to the child's stage of development.
Are there any strategies?
It is important for parents to devise ways of helping children deal with trauma, whether direct trauma from being close to a fire or from seeing graphic images.
Professor Gibbs said that parents can involve young children in bushfire strategies. They can be included in bushfire planning in vulnerable areas. It depends on the age of the child but they he or she could, for example, be given the task of looking after a pet.
There are a lot of resources out there for parents, including "After the emergency", a book for children aged five to eight, "Joel and the Storm", a story for children aged five to 11 who have experienced trauma and a lot of online video and advice. Kidshelpline for children and young people aged five to 25 is on 1800 551 800.