Resilient Australia School Award

The Resilient Australia Awards is a nationwide program to celebrate and promote initiatives that build whole of community resilience to disasters and emergencies around Australia. The awards recognise collaboration and innovative thinking across all sectors.

The National School Award is open to all public and private pre-school, primary and secondary schools in Australia. Find out more and submit to the Resilient Australia Awards Program.

The Resilient Australia Awards is proudly sponsored by the Australian Government in partnership with the states and territories and managed by the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR).

Browse previous winners and finalists in the National School Award category.

The Harkaway Primary Manifesto and Bushfire Safety Committee


Winner, Resilient Australia National School Award, 2023

Harkaway Primary School, Victoria

Is there something so important to learn that we have to change the way we teach? At Harkaway Primary School we believe there is. Child Centred Disaster Risk Reduction (CCDRR) is growing in relevance around the world, with the effects of climate change and urban expansion exposing children to more frequent and devastating natural hazards than ever before.

We have worked to rewrite the teachers manual. Harkaway students have collaborated with fire agencies, educators and experts to help design, develop and test new approaches to CCDRR. Imagine a classroom where the learning can change your life! Children can play a vital role in reducing the risks in the spaces where they live, learn and play.

The Harkaway Bushfire Safety Committee have developed a manifesto, educated university students, presented at conferences and assisted in the development of a research-informed approach to bushfire education. 

Climate Change Your Tune


Finalist, Resilient Australia National School Award, 2023

Living School, New South Wales

Born as a message of action in the catastrophic aftermath of the 2022 Lismore floods, Climate Change Your Tune is an initiative that endeavours to give a voice to children facing the increasingly severe impact and dangers of climate change. The initiative features an original song, composed by Year 6 students, that encourages all people to take action to protect our Earth so as to prevent further natural disasters from occurring. Inspired by SDG 13, Climate Action, this song speaks specifically to the people who are not playing their part in preventing further catastrophe, urging them to change their tune. After experiencing the Lismore floods, losing homes, businesses and their school, the students wanted to take effective and immediate action, creating a campaign to add as many voices to the choir as possible, knowing that many voices are louder than one. Often ignored, they needed to be heard.

Port School 'Resilient and Ready' Program


Finalist, Resilient Australia National School Award, 2023

Port School, Western Australia

The Port School 'Resilient and Ready' program equips young people from vulnerable communities with the necessary skills to understand and engage with the growing risks and impacts of disasters. By enhancing their resilience, response, and recovery abilities, the program empowers them to actively contribute to reducing disaster risks and impacts. It exposes participants to the roles and responsibilities of volunteering in emergency services organisations, augmenting the community's ability to respond to disasters. The program imparts essential qualifications in fire extinguisher training and first aid and cultivates valuable soft skills such as leadership, communication, problem-solving, and empathy. Ultimately, the program equips young individuals to effectively deal with disasters and support their friends, families, and wider communities in preparing for and managing disaster situations.

Woodridge State High School Empowered, Resilient and World Changing!


Finalist, Resilient Australia National School Award, 2023

Woodridge State High School, Queensland

The Woodridge State High School tree was planted 20 years ago and sits at the front of the high school. This tree has been a meeting place for the school and community for many years. Just like a tree’s growth and development so too has the Woodridge State High School been forced to grow and develop at a rapid rate. Due to multiple disasters including floods, COVID-19 and a tornado the Woodridge State High School and subsequent community has been forced rally together and change the way the school is run, and the students are educated and cared for. Changing their school timetables to be more flexible, integrating more technology into everyday education and being more opening to suggestion and feedback for educating students are among the many changes made. The five core areas of resilience that Woodridge State High School focused on were the Human Element, Maintaining our Core Business, Shared Belief of High Expectations, Leveraging Change and Sustainability.

Cairns in Your Hands

Winner, Resilient Australia National School Award, 2022

Tropical North Learning Academy Smithfield State High School, Queensland

The Cairns region is a beautiful, tropical area: however it is extremely vulnerable to disasters and the increasing effects of sea level rise and climate change. ‘Cairns in Your Hands' is about empowering the youth of Cairns through geographical inquiry and 21st century thinking skills, to develop a coastal hazards adaptation plan to ensure the future of their city. It's about creating the opportunity to gather gifted and talented and passionate students together from different schools in one place over four days, to develop real world authentic solutions to the greatest threat Cairns faces.



SYP First Aid for Kids initiative

Highly Commended, Resilient Australia National School Award, 2022

St Columba’s Memorial School, South Australia

Southern Yorke Peninsula (SYP) First Aid for Kids programme lead by St Columba's Memorial School in partnership with four other SYP primary schools and Karyn Hindle from Head2Toe first aid, delivered age-appropriate first aid, disaster resilience and wellbeing sessions for over 350 primary school aged children and their teachers. The sessions covered basic first aid and supporting wellbeing after an emergency event. Each family received a first aid kit to take home along with Red Cross' 'Helping children and young people cope with crisis' resource booklet. The initiative was funded by Wellbeing SA's Strengthening Community Wellbeing after Bushfires Grant Program.

Beyond COVID-19


Winner, Resilient Australia School Award, 2021

In 2020, Pimlico State High School, like the rest of the world was forced to adapt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This disaster highlighted that schools are more than just bricks and mortar. The school used learnings from the 2019 Townsville floods about the importance of wellbeing and resilience to foreground its response to the pandemic. We used the pivot towards online learning as an opportunity for innovation in teaching and learning and explored multiple opportunities to maintain student connection to the school community through student voice and continuing extra-curricular opportunities. As the pandemic evolves, the school has maintained a focus on sustaining our innovative work “Beyond COVID-19.”

Central West Health and Wellbeing Day


Highly Commended, Resilient Australia School Award, 2021

Central West Health and Wellbeing Day aimed to give the community something to look forward to, through challenging times and to strengthen the bonds between Central West communities. This day presented students with a platform to learn, grow and discover themselves whilst also helping them experience different wellbeing exercises and work towards breaking the stigma associated with ‘mental health’, while cultivating  hope within a community that had been enduring drought for over a decade, recent floods and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

High school students from the surrounding towns were invited to this event. From these communities, over 220 students and teachers attended the event. The event was the catalyst that promoted uncommon conversations leading to powerful personal insights and change. 


St John's Resilience Project


Highly Commended, Resilient Australia School Award, 2021

St John’s School believes well-being and resilience are key in setting students up for educational and life success in times of hardship and drought, sadly an ongoing reality in its region of Australia. The initiative started in 2018 with a yearly Wellness Week project, a week-long event designed to effect change by educating and empowering the school community to be resilient.

In 2021, the focus was mental health, starting with the theme “it’s okay to have a blue day” then shifting to resilience and building strategies to bounce back. Activities targeted mental health, physical health, connection, and kindness, as research finds these elements can improve mental health and resilience in times of adversity. To maintain momentum the Resilience Project promoting gratitude, empathy, mindfulness, and emotional literacy, was introduced across grades 7 to 12 in 2020 and extended to include all students from prep to grade 12 in 2021.

Disaster Resilience for a Changing Climate Grand Challenge


Winner, Resilient Australia School Award, 2020

Following monsoon activity in North Queensland in 2019, Thuringowa State High School address youth resilience through virtual technology. The Disaster Resilience for a Changing Climate Grand Challenge course delivered through the school’s Queensland Virtual STEM Academy. 

In collaboration with Townsville City Council, emergency managers and James Cook University, students developed resilience and community activities to help people be safe, seek assistance and help others before, during and after events.

Students use scientific inquiry and problem-solving skills and collaborate with each other and experts to solve the Grand Challenge. 

Step Up!

Highly commended, Resilient Australia School Award, 2020

The Timboon P-12 School in Victoria links with the local community through the Timboon Agriculture Project and creates champions for effective school-industry engagement among its staff, families and community. In 2019, the annual celebration of the school’s curriculum focused on volunteering through the theme: Step Up!

Students were introduced to the gamut of volunteering in all sectors across our community. The expo was followed by age-tailored workshops for students and community visitors to continue this engagement and learning about the roles of emergency services volunteers and the training activities and technologies they use.

The workshops  reinforce the importance of community connections, demystify emergency personnel, build relationships based on trust and appreciation, and encourage new volunteers.

Exploring Emergency Services

Highly commended, Resilient Australia School Award, 2020

Augusta Primary School’s pilot program Exploring Emergency Services’ was a coordinated effort by the school and local emergency services to lead change in disaster resilience among youth and their families in Augusta, Western Australia.

The program focused on increasing student understanding of local risks, emergency services resources and empowering students and their families to take responsibility for their actions, prepare and plan for emergencies.

The program also inspired students to consider volunteering and increased social cohesion between students, families, primary school staff, community members and emergency services in the Augusta community.

A Walk Through Strathewen's Fire History


Winner, Resilient Australia National School Award, 2019

A program born out of Black Saturday, which destroyed Strathewen Primary School in Victoria.

Strathewen Primary School, in collaboration with members of the local Country Fire Authority, take annual excursions, camps and community activities to strengthen the students' resilience and understanding of the risks posed by bushfires.


Connecting the Divide: Swayneville School Mural

Highly commended, Resilient Australia National School Award, 2019

When Cyclone Debbie destroyed the main access road into the small, rural community of Sarina Range in 2017, a temporary school campus was established at the top of the town.

Students designed and created a mural to illustrate their strength after the cyclone and to connect the two school campuses. The mural serves as a positive reminder of the student’s resilience, providing a fitting backdrop for school photos and a positive talking point for visitors.

When the Fire Met the Sea

Highly commended, Resilient Australia National School Award, 2019

Tathra Public School showcased their resilience through words and imagery after the devastation caused by the March 2018 bushfires destroyed almost 70 homes in their town.

Tathra Public School students produced a picture book, When the Fire Met the Sea, written and illustrated by students at the school after the March 2018 bushfires.

The school was in the direct line of the fire front, which burnt trees, ash-smothered classrooms and destroyed the school playground.

The book features poems, stories and vivid artwork about the students’ experiences during the fire and is a historical reminder of their resilience. A copy of the book is in the National Library of Australia in Canberra with other copies available for sale to raise further funds for the school.

Firestick Project 

Winner, Resilient Australia National School Award, 2018

A Wurundjeri-led project in partnership with Dixons Creek Primary School, Yarra Ranges Council and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Victoria

The devastation that followed Black Saturday had a significant impact on the Dixons Creek community and the wellbeing of children at the local primary school. Through the Firestick project, students learn about fire management from Indigenous Elders. The project helps both the children and wider community establish a positive relationship with fire.

Parent Trees are talking 

Dixons Creek Primary School students from years 3-6 were asked to write and draw their learnings whilst walking on Country with Uncle Dave Wandin. Their work was then collated in the 'Parent Trees are Talking’ book and published by Yarra Ranges Council.

Download book: Parent Trees are talking (PDF 9.06MB)


Getting Bushfire Ready at Warrimoo Public School 

Warrimoo Public School students and NSW Rural Fire Service checking emergency kit

Highly commended, Resilient Australia National School Award, 2018

Warrimoo Public School and Warrimoo Rural Fire Service Brigade, New South Wales

Warrimoo Public School and the local Rural Fire Service brigade partnered to equip over 150 students with bushfire safety knowledge, skills and values. The project enhanced community awareness of the school as a safe place for students during a bushfire event. Together, the school and brigade host the annual Rural Fire Service Get Ready Weekend, promoting preparedness and resilience throughout the community.

“I feel a lot more prepared for fires and the sessions have definitely widened my knowledge.”

Charlotte, senior student, Warrimoo Public School

“At home I told my family and we made an escape plan. They thought it was a good idea that we were having lessons about this.”

Elizia, senior student, Warrimoo Public School



Highly commended, Resilient Australia National School Award, 2018

The Holographic Lounge with Invermay Primary School, Launceston Big Picture School and meenah neenah Aboriginal Cultural Education Program.

Through the Floodscapes project, Launceston schoolchildren produced three short films to deliver flood safety messages to their community, using footage overlaid with their own animations.

The project encourages and empowers the children of Launceston to become the safety guardians and messengers for the city.

The films are accessible to people with hearing and visual impairments and can be readily shared through social media.


There are three films in the Floodscapes series: 

  • Community Wise
  • Water Wise 
  • Pet Wise


Project FireStorm 


Winner, Resilient Australia National School Award, 2017

St Ives North Public School with the New South Wales Rural Fire Service

Sydney's St. Ives North Public School won the National School Award in 2017 for Project FireStorm, an integrated bushfire education program delivered in partnership with the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS). With support from the NSW RFS, students designed and presented innovative solutions to enhance preparedness and resilience to bushfire in their community.

The project addressed education outcomes of the K-6 New South Wales syllabus for the Australian Curriculum, with an emphasis on geography and science. The project supported an integrated approach to teaching and learning about bushfires, using problem-based learning strategies. Project FireStorm is now used as a case study to support teachers to deliver bushfire education across New South Wales.


Strathewen-Arthurs Creek Bushfire Education Partnership 

Highly commended, Resilient Australia National School Award, 2017

Strathewen Primary School with the Arthurs Creek/Strathewen Country Fire Authority

Strathewen was one of many communities impacted by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. In 2016, Strathewen Primary School worked with the Arthur's Creek/Strathewen Country Fire Authority (CFA) to deliver a program related to bushfire risk, focused on helping children 'love where they live' again. Part of the CFA's broader Survive and Thrive program, the project used Claymation video to creatively engage students in learning about fire behaviour. The project educated students on the risks of living in a high fire danger area, encouraging them to think proactively about ways of reducing and managing the risk. 

Rebuilding Dunalley Primary School after the 2013 Fires Project 

construction of the temporary Dunalley primary school

Highly commended, Resilient Australia National School Award, 2017

Dunalley Primary School

In 2013 the town of Dunalley in Tasmania was devastated by bushfire that destroyed the local school, police station and bakery. The community rallied together to rebuilt a fully functioning temporary school in approximately 40 days, ready for occupancy by the 120 students and their teachers only two days after the scheduled start of the 2013 school year.



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