Drawing by Luella, a prep student at Strathewen Primary School, part of The Chook Project, a community-building and healing project that sprang from the ashes of Black Saturday. Strathewen Primary School was a small school with 35 students in February 2009. The school, along with most of the rest of the community of Strathewen, was destroyed by bushfire on 7 February 2009. 22 people were killed in Strathewen on Black Saturday, the greatest loss of life on a population basis of any community in Victoria.

The school re-opened four days later on Wednesday, 11 February 2009 in a borrowed classroom in nearby Wattle Glen. Many of the children had lost homes, friends and family members. In a gesture of comfort and support, Barbara Joyce approached the school with a proposal. Each child was invited to colour in a picture of a nesting hen, and each design was translated by a team of volunteer knitters into a chicken cushion. The children received their cushions in a special assembly in November 2009.

In October 2010, Strathewen Primary School moved into its new building on the site of the original school.

Physical Description

Sheet of white A4 paper with a black outline of a hen, filled in with a rainbow patter in blue, green, pink, red and yellow. The head of the chicken is red and the comb is yellow.


Black Saturday, 7 February 2009, effectively destroyed the settlement of Strathewen. Despite the high death toll and widespread devastation, an astonishing number of creative projects have arisen to give comfort and help in the recovery efforts. This project is significant because it helps children, the most vulnerable members of the community. It also demonstrates the power of handmade objects to convey love. These are emotions that connect the survivors in Strathewen with people throughout the world who have responded to this and other natural disasters.

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