How Can We Help Kids Feel Safe During Bushfires?

How Can We Help Kids Feel Safe During Bushfires?

10 January 2020

With numerous bushfires still burning across the country, our stress levels as a community are high. Even those of us not in immediate danger are upset about what’s happened and worried about what lies ahead.

Our kids are not immune to this. 

As adults, it can be hard to know how to keep our children feeling safe when there’s danger around them. We can’t just pretend it’s not happening, but what can we do or say that will actually help?

Normalise: Let children know that any anxiety they’re feeling about the bushfires is understandable and a normal response. When there’s a threat, their amygdala kicks in, and that means it’s working as it should be.

Empathise: Your kids might be a bit clingier than usual, they might have big reactions to things or need extra help with things like getting to sleep. Even though you’re probably managing some hard feelings yourself, try and meet them with understanding. Acknowledge the bad things that are happening and how your kids are feeling about them.

Empower them: Help your kids to understand where the fires are in your region by showing them fire maps, visiting the government websites for guidance together, and developing your escape plan together. Not knowing what is happening is scary, having (age-appropriate) information is empowering. Just like adults, kids will be a bit less worried if they feel prepared.

Be aware of what they’re seeing and hearing: While it’s good for kids to have some information about what’s happening, it’s better if you can manage how they get this. TV news and radio reports are probably going to be overwhelming, upsetting and unhelpful. Remember, they’re made for adults, with our understanding of context and perspective.

Help them take action: Even little things like writing notes and drawing pictures for families impacted by the fires, supporting a request for practical assistance or coming up with a way of raising funds will help your children channel their feelings into something positive and productive.

Be their safe place: Most importantly of all, you can help your children by being their safe place. You don’t have to pretend that you’re unaffected by it all, but it’s good if you can let them know that you’re always available to comfort and reassure them regardless. Tell them they’re not alone, you’re in this together and you have a plan.

We hope this helps you and the children around you. To those who have already experienced losses of lives, homes and community in these fires, our thoughts are with you and we’re holding space for you and what you’re going through. From our families to yours, our sincerest condolences. 

Credits - Parent TV and Neurochild Community


Welcome to 2020!

Welcome to 2020!

3 January 2020


And so it is 2020..


Welcome to the first Collective blog for 2020. (As a side note, can you believe it is 2020?! Where did the last 20 years go?! Back when we were worrying about Y2K, and as per our recent post, dreaming of flying Jetson’s cars!)


We have quite a few new followers on our social media, so I thought the New Year might be a good time to introduce myself and tell you a little bit more about the Collective. My name is Tanya, and I have been a Psychologist in Dubbo for what feels like a lifetime now (especially when I am realising it is 2020 already!) The Collective first started in 2016 as a small group of women in allied health who were passionate about improving access to services in Dubbo and the West, and making sure rural families could access collaborative multi-disciplinary services in the same way city families could (without all that travel!) Fast forward 4 years and the Collective has evolved in many ways, but still has the same core values at heart. Reflecting back on the last 4 years, I cannot wait to see what 2020 has in store for the Collective..


New years tend to symbolise fresh starts, new goals, new opportunities, and renewed energy to tackle all of the above. If your social media looks anything like mine, it has been filled with people reflecting on their 2019 (as well as their past decade), and setting their goals and resolutions for a fresh start in 2020. It sounds as though 2019 has been a big year for a lot of people! Seeing all of these posts has had us reflecting at the Collective. Like most, there have been plenty of ups and downs, but we are trying to focus on what we can be grateful for as we wrap up the decade.


A lot of people in the country have had a very tough end to 2019, and a very tough start to 2020. Hundreds of people around the country have lost their homes, their properties, and even their lives. Firefighters have spent months battling the most intense bushfire conditions our country has ever seen. Our farmers continue to battle the worst drought conditions ever seen, without an end in sight. It saddens me to see the way these events are leading to stories that focus on blame and accusations. If there was ever a time to band together and show kindness, isn’t it now?


On a much more positive note, it has been amazing to see the way rural communities have been uniting during the drought, and the support being shown by our city friends. Campaigns like #buyfromthebush have brought a smile to many faces. There have been powerful collaborations between a number of rural women that have highlighted the resilience of many despite these relentless conditions. Let’s hope this can continue in 2020 (also – please rain!)


For us at the Collective, 2020 is also signifying a fresh start, and bringing with it loads of enthusiasm and energy. We have some pretty exciting things in store this year, including some fairly major changes to the services and programs we have on offer. We can’t wait to share more.


Until then, Happy New Year. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and productive 2020 (with just a little bit of sparkle).


x Tanya



What are we aiming for with Intuitive Eating?

What are we aiming for with Intuitive Eating?

27 December 2019

What do we aim for with Intuitive Eating?

Many people come to me hoping to lose weight - but is that actually what they really want?

I often ask my clients - "Do you want to lose weight and keep worrying about what you eat and what you weigh OR do you want to improve your relationship with food, stop worrying about food, weight and body and eventually be at peace?"

Interestingly nearly everyone - actually I'd say everyone - chooses the 2nd option. But the way to reach the 2nd option is through learning to listen to your body, hear what it wants to eat, when it wants to eat, how much it wants to eat - and give it to it. And that is learning to eat Intuitively. It is not obeying a diet plan given to you by someone else, or taken from a book, or printed off the internet - because how on earth can anyone except you know what YOUR BODY needs or wants on any one day.

My role as an Intuitive eating counsellor is to help you trust your choices and to trust that what you are hearing from your body is OK. I also help you block out the noise from diet culture and analyse that all those messages from the multi-trillion dollar industry are just designed to keep making you feel miserable - so you keep buying their products, so THEY keep making money.

And this is where NOT WEIGHING is a vital part of the process. To be a truly non-diet dietitian - any weighing initiated and supported by me is counter productive to the process because it not only reinforces the idea that who you are as a person is not good enough right now as you are, but it reinforces the idea that weight loss is a behaviour and you can control weight loss. You can't!!! It also can encourage you to restrict your eating and nudge you back into dieting behaviours and not LISTEN to your body again, when what we're trying to do is get you to listen to your body. If you get on any scales - I don't care what - BIA, body comp, fancy scales that measure fat, muscle, water - whatever - they all encourage you to focus on the wrong thing - your body/body shape/body fat/body weight, rather than behaviours that are helpful to improving your health. Weighing encourages people to restrict food to lose weight, rather than eat food to nourish their body - and ultimately results in bingeing and usually weight gain - so is ultimately counter-productive.

It can take multiple months before people see "measurable" progress with Intuitive eating - usually 3-4 months before clothes feel loser - because the first few months are about trusting that all food is available whenever you want it, and discovering what foods you actually really like. But after that phase is over then my clients settle in to enjoying the foods they really like and their bodies start to find the shape and weight they are meant to be. They find new energy they didn't have before, and they start to want to do exercise/movement.

It is slow-ish, but it's a life-long sustainable approach. And because the body isn’t forced to lose weight, one’s self-esteem isn’t tied to reaching and then staying at a random or arbitrary number that you, me, another health practitioner or some equation has suggested you should be.

That's not to say that exciting changes don't start straight away. Clients often come back after their first session and say "I can't believe I spent SO MUCH TIME thinking and worrying about what I should eat!" This is because they are now listening to their bodies and eating what their bodies want them to eat - and ironically it's not chocolate, chips, lollies, cake, doughnuts.... But rather - (some real examples) - a ham and cheese sandwich, sushi, rice paper rolls, corn and a Thai chicken curry. I've had to talk through with people how these foods are not "bad", but how their internalised "food rules" have made them view them as "bad" and has consequently made them think these foods are dangerous.

So when it comes to Christmas - It's just another day, with party food. And we can eat a bit and feel satisfied and know that all that food will be available tomorrow, the next day, next week, next month if we so desire it. The desire to gorge is gone because we allow ourselves this food without guilt, without shame, without remorse... It's just food.

It's not good, bad or otherwise...

Because since when did food have a moral value?


Christmas Craft

Christmas Craft

13 December 2019

It’s that time of year to bring out our creative spirit and create cute Christmas craft for our children to enjoy.

Craft is a weekly activity within my household, although within the festive season I love to expose my children to a variety of creative art activities to get them excited for Christmas. AND why not expose them to a variety of educational opportunities; developing their colours, shapes, following instructions, listening skills, developing their vocabulary and most importantly having fun and developing social relationships.

It is also perfect opportunity to provide lots of opportunities to practice speech sounds and/or vocabulary development 🎅

Paper Cup Christmas Tree!

All you need is:
🎄Green paper cups
🎄Gold glitter paper
🎄Star paper punch
🎄Buttons, pompoms, beads, or sequins
🎄Craft glue or hot glue
🎄Ornament string
🎄Thumbtack and/or knitting needle
🎄Jingle bells (medium)

This little paper cup Christmas tree is a perfect handmade Christmas ornament for home or the classroom.

Check out the below link for step by step instructions on how to create some fun Christmas craft 😊

Creating Christmas Memories

Creating Christmas Memories

6 December 2019

Writing the Collective’s social media posts this week has certainly got me thinking about what makes Christmas special. Sure, the presents are great, but the things I most remember tend to be about the people, and the experiences. Sharing those memories and continuing our family Christmas traditions really helps to bring everyone together and make the occasion feel special. And the excitement and enthusiasm of kids at Christmas is infectious.

Here are some fun ideas for creating great Christmas traditions with the family.

1. Take the kids to the library and borrow some Christmas books. Read them each night in the lead up to Christmas.   

2. Do a video interview of family members every Christmas Eve, talking about why Christmas is special to them.

3. Instead of chocolate in the Advent Calendar, write notes each day about what you love the most about each child. Each day they’ll read something positive about themselves and feel great.

4. Hide the last presents on Christmas day and make clues as to where your kids can find them. (Having done this once, it is just as much fun for the giver as the receiver!)

5. Turn your Elf on a Shelf into a Kindness Elf that helps around the house and notices when your kids do considerate things. (I can’t say I’m a fan of the Elf on a Shelf, but if you do have one, use his/her powers for good!)

6. Drive or walk around looking at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve. I love the extent that some people go to, to make others happy with their light displays.

7. Give matching Christmas pyjamas for the whole family on Christmas Eve. (Then post it on social media and become a meme.)

8. Make reindeer food out of dried oats and glitter and have the kids sprinkle it in the backyard on Christmas Eve.

9. Take flour and make Santa footprints on Christmas Eve.

10. Watch your favourite Christmas movie and eat Christmas treats every Christmas Eve.

11. Take your kids shopping for a toy to donate during the Christmas season.

12. Make a countdown to Christmas paper chain. Take a ring off the chain each day.

13. Write a yearly letter to your kids and put it in a clear plastic, fillable ornament ball.

14. Take your kids shopping to buy presents for each other.

15. Have a special dessert or dish you only make on Christmas. Something really decadent. Get everyone involved in making it.

16. Have a camp out one night under the Christmas tree.

17. Booby trap the children’s bedroom doors by creating a web of green and red streamers the kids have to break through on Christmas morning.

18. Take a picture each year in front of the tree in the same poses. Keep an ongoing collection for a photo series that shows them growing up.

19. Photocopy your children’s letters to Santa each year and make a book out of them when they are older.

20. Make a red and green paper gratitude chain. Each night leading up to Christmas, each person writes what they are grateful for and adds it to the chain.

21. Crank up the Christmas carols and sing!

22. Leave stockings at the foot of your children’s bed to keep them entertained as you catch a few more minutes sleep on Christmas morning (one can dream)!

23. Give your kids a Christmas bath with a few drops of green food dye or bath colour, candy canes and some holiday decorations all around the tub.

24. Have a treasure hunt in or around the house. Hide Christmas chocolate coins or candy canes for everyone to hunt out.

25. Remember that neither we, nor Christmas, need to be perfect. We just need to be present.

For me Christmas is really all about making special family traditions and memories. The gifts are just a bonus!


Merry Christmas!


Karen 😊