Shane Fitzsimmons, Commissioner Resilience NSW: Welcome to Parliament House. It's great to see everybody here this afternoon. Can I acknowledge up front our Minister The Honourable Steph Cooke Emergency Services Minister, Minister for Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery, we know how busy you are right now particularly and it's wonderful to have you here this afternoon to join in this special ceremony. Can I also acknowledge a colleague, Commissioner Rob Rogers AFSM, Commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service. I also noted out in the foyer there, wonderful to see our mayor from Shoalhaven Amanda Findley, welcome here today. Most importantly finalists, recipients here for the awards ceremony this afternoon. Can I begin as is appropriate by acknowledging the traditional owners of the country on which we are gathered here today here at Parliament House. It's the lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. It is an absolute pleasure that we welcome everyone here today to announce the Resilient Australia Award winners and the New South Wales Get Ready Community Award winner for 2022.
The Hon. Steph Cooke, Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minster for Flood Recovery: I'm honoured to be here today as the Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and the Minister for Flood Recovery. I've been fortunate to be able to travel around the state, meet staff on the front line and listen to the needs of community members, councils and other organisations. We know from experience that disasters can devastate entire communities but when our Emergency Services collaborate with councils and community groups we can better prepare and respond and when we do that we recover faster. I'm keenly aware of the emotional and economic impacts of disasters. Programs that bring communities together and projects that help our communities, individuals, families, farmers and business owners recover have never been more important. I've listened to inspiring stories and seen the important recovery work that is happening. Every story puts another human face on why our collective mission is so vital and why there has never been a more important time for this community-led work. And this is why I will continue to do everything that I can to ensure that everyone who needs it gets the right support when they need it most. There is much to be optimistic about as clearly illustrated by the calibre of the award finalists today.
Shane Fitzsimmons: Thank you Minister and the reason we gathered here today I think has been wonderfully summarised by the Minister and Resilience New South Wales is very proud to host these Commonwealth and state-based awards programs and they're designed to promote and recognise initiatives that go to the core of strengthening community disaster resilience. The events have been of a scale like we've never seen before and just picking up on four events in the last couple of years: the bushfires; the March floods of ‘21; the February March floods and storms of ‘22; and the July event of this year with storms and floods. There's been more than 10 billion dollars worth of recovery and support programs that have gone into those events and another 2.6 billion on top of that for those four events in Commonwealth disaster payments directly to individuals. So the challenge is how do we get the best reach and the best utilisation of those funding and resources and commitments and a key part of that is how do we engage and connect, recognise and utilise and value community-led initiatives like those being exampled and recognized here today. It's my pleasure now to ask our Minister The Honourable Steph Cooke to announce our winning entries for the New South Wales Resilient Australia Awards. Minister Cooke.
Minister Cooke: These awards showcase innovation and exemplary preparedness when it comes to disaster resilience and risk reduction across the state. They celebrate achievements that may otherwise go unrecognised and continue to inspire other groups to begin building greater disaster resilience within their communities. This year we yet again had an incredible number of submissions with many entries across the Resilient Australia award categories. I would like to congratulate each of the finalists being recognised today. I would like to also congratulate each nominee. Their incredible efforts, hard work and outstanding contributions do not go unnoticed and are helping to make communities in New South Wales more resilient. The Community Award category. So this award recognises communities, community-based or focused organisations and non-government organisations leading initiatives and programs to support community resilience and help communities recover from disasters. The finalists are: Save the Children Australia; Harrington Crowdy Head Community Resilience Team; Bushfire Building Council of Australia. This year we actually have joint winners of the Community Awards and they are Save the Children Australia and Harrington Crowdy Head Community Resilience Team.
Voiceover: By engaging the whole of the community across all age groups in developing Harrington and Crowley Head a resilient community, the value has been twofold. One: it has helped to build stronger communication links between our community groups, educational and business groups, the wider regional community and our local emergency services. Two: it has given us greater capacity to help ourselves and each other, including our more vulnerable community members, by knowing steps which can help us to prepare, respond and recover from any future natural disasters.
54 reasons is Australia's leading child rights organisation and is a part of Save the Children Australia group. We know that in any emergency children and young people are the most vulnerable during the immediate crisis and afterwards and that early intervention can play a vital role in the recovery and long-term well-being. Based in cognitive-behavioral theory, Journey of Hope is an early intervention program for children and young people aged 4 to 18 who have had their safety, stability and learning undermined by disaster or collective trauma experience. The program was first delivered in Australia in 2020 after the black summer bushfires and has reached over 5,000 children in New South Wales and Victoria. Journey of Hope helps children and caregivers cope with collective trauma, identify triggers and stresses, develop their natural resilience and coping strategies, and strengthens their social support networks.
Minister Cooke: Moving on to the Local Government Award category. So this recognises local governments and local government associations who champion disaster resilience at a community level and help lead communities in the wake of disaster. The finalists are: Shoalhaven City Council; Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils; and the Bellingen Shire Council. And the winner is the Bellingen Shire Council for their community-led disaster response program.
Voiceover: The Be Kind campaign reminded people of our sense of community and responsibility to others and subsequent funding of activities has been directed by council towards community events, getting together and connecting. Integrating education such as mental health first aid and suicide prevention training can also assist to build community resilience. The Be Kind campaign.
Minister Cooke: The next award category is the Mental Health and Wellbeing Award and it recognises projects that focus on the mental health and well-being of Australian communities before, during and after a disaster. The finalists are the Maurie Voisey-Barlin and MacKillop Family Services and this year our winner is MacKillop family services for their good grief Stormbirds program.
Voiceover: Since December 2019 we have responded to ongoing disasters supporting more than 30 communities and over 8,000 children and young people within those communities with resources and programs to support children, families and professionals in the immediate response.
Voiceover: Stormbird's program was fantastic for our small fire-affected school. It provided a safe place to talk about worries and concerns with those who have gone through similar experiences. I felt we were given strategies to help students cope with change and grief. I believe we have now prepared ourselves mentally and emotionally for this fire season.
Voiceover: Our aim is to walk alongside communities to build the capacity for adults, children and young people to recover from natural disasters and prepare for other adverse events.
Minister Cooke: Our last category for this portion of the awards program is the Photography Award category. For this category our winner is Sue Curtis with her image ‘Fire season preparation: facing the fire knowing the team has my back’. Unfortunately Sue couldn't be here today however we congratulate Sue on winning this category and helping raise awareness in this space.
Voiceover: Sue Curtis is based in the Wollongong area and has enjoyed more than 35 years of using photography to explore a wide range of subjects. Such a diverse interest in different photography subjects has opened many opportunities to explore the story beyond a photograph and connect different aspects of an image. Sue feels that photography has given so much to her she likes to share this with others in the form of teaching small groups to experience different types of photography and volunteering for local camera groups.
Minister Cooke: Wow, fantastic. And I will now hand back to Commissioner Fitzsimmons to announce the 2022 Get Ready Community Award.
Shane Fitzsimmons: Thank you Minister. A wonderful, wonderful lineup of finalists and recipients here today and now for the second part of the ceremony this afternoon it's the 2022 Get Ready Community Award. This New South Wales government-based award was introduced back in 2015 to recognize the quiet achievers with big impact: New South Wales community groups that have made a real difference to the resilience and disaster preparedness of their town and local community. We have three finalists in this category this afternoon: Wardell CORE for their Wardell Community Organised Resilience Effort; the Shedding Community workshop for their The Repair Cafe initiative; and last but not least the Hub 2484 based in Murwillumbah. And this year our winner is the Hub 2484 for their response to the February-March floods of earlier this year.
Voiceover: We started here at HUB 2484 directly after the floods earlier this year. It was a huge donations hub and serviced right up to Tweed, right down to Coraki and Woodburn and Lismore hundreds and hundreds of volunteers we had through the door and we were able to deploy them to people's homes that needed support. Our Core Business now really is getting financial support to people in this phase of recovery to replace items that they've lost. The Hub is open five days a week we have a lot of people just coming in to connect it means a lot to them to know that their Community is still there supporting them and that we're there for the long haul.
Shane Fitzsimmons: Thank you ladies and gentlemen and thank you most importantly to all our winners and finalists represented here today and I mean represented here today because what you represent is a sampling of so much that is great and wonderful that is occurring right across the state of New South Wales when it comes to community initiatives, community programs, community care for one another that's designing and developing and committing to programs and support simply to make a difference in their home, in their patch, in their community. There is no doubt as has been said before these winners will go on in the resilient Australia Awards to be confirmed in the lineup in the next month or so and whilst 22 Awards is over I would remind everybody and encourage everybody to connect with their communities identify and please take the time to nominate individuals and Community groups that might be worthy of consideration and line up here in 2023.