Case studies

The Heroes of Black Summer

A picture book is playing a role in helping children overcome the ordeals they experienced during the East Gippsland region’s terrifying 2019-20 bushfires. The Heroes of Black Summer picture book tells the stories of the “heroes” who helped protect them and, through this, aims to help children process the trauma without suffering stress, anxiety or depression. Promoting resilience in children, while strengthening their connection with adults in their families as they read, heal and look at the pictures together.

Throughout Victoria, people started ‘paying it forward’ and doing what they could to help others in need. And many heroes emerged. Heroes of Black Summer is a picture book illustrating some of the heroic, brave and kind actions of Australian people during the 2019-20 bushfire season. Each mini story captures a real life experience of the harrowing events from individuals and families living in the East Gippsland region. The book provides fire-affected communities with a tool to manage stress, anxiety and depression to support healing and recovery, and is also a great resource to actively engage with the community to gather and share their stories.

Author: Craig Sheather is a travel and creative writer from Albury in southern New South Wales. He specialises in lifestyle writing about the outdoors, food and wine, luxury, adventure and family travel.

Co-author: Victorian author Kylie Miller has always been a writer, pumping out stories for her parents as a child before embarking on a career as an award-winning journalist and corporate writer.

Illustrator: Karen Erasmus is an artist, illustrator and designer working in a beautiful bayside town near Melbourne, Australia. Her illustrations and designs focus on colour, character and story.

The book was published by Australian Geographic with a One Good Community Wellbeing Grant through Gippsland Primary Health Network.

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