Trigger warning: This article contains a first-hand account of the summer bushfires in the Southern Highlands.
A Moss Vale mother fears severe bushfire danger will become a yearly norm for her three-year-old child.
The resident revealed her concerns in a letter to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.
This was a part of the Australian Parents for Climate Action's (AP4CA) submission, which was published to the public on the Royal Commission's website.
"Like so many others, we had a traumatic and challenging summer, having to navigate toxic smoke, extreme heat and the threat of fires to our north and south," the Moss Vale mother said.
"Trying to explain this situation to a toddler was heartbreaking.
"Naturally, he couldn't understand why he couldn't go outside, why his father was wearing a mask every time he went to clear debris in the gutters and garden [and] why we had bags packed by the door."
The resident said the evening of January 4 was "particularly harrowing" with erratic winds, extreme heat and embers around their house.
"Luckily, we were spared. But friends, and many others in our community were not," she said.
"Their pain is real; it is ongoing; and fear for the summers to come has become a permanent fixture."
"To be honest, it is unacceptable to me that the summer we just lived through should be the standard my three-year-old expects from the coming summers of his childhood - and I do not accept that we should settle for this as normal."
Calls for funding and resources
The resident criticised politicians who "dismissed and downplayed" the links between climate change and the bushfires.
"In an effort to turn things around as quickly as possible and ensure that our children have at least some summers that resemble the ones we were lucky enough to have, I want to see our political leaders listening to evidence and experts," she said.
"I want to see our emergency services properly funded and resourced. And I want to see our political leaders respond to affected communities with empathy and action, not political spin."
The AP4CA has submitted nine recommendations for improvement to the Royal Commission.
These include acknowledgement that the 2019/20 bushfires were the worst in Australia's history, the establishment of resilience measures to reduce the impact of natural disasters on children and urgent action to reduce Australia's anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
The recommendations can be read in full on page four and five of AP4CA's submission on the Royal Commission's website.
Lifeline has a dedicated 24-hour bushfire recovery support line: 13 HELP (13 43 57).