Winner: Harrington Crowdy Head Community Resilience Team
The Harrington Crowdy Head Community Resilience Team formed after the highly stressful 2019-2020 bushfires and a major flood event in March 2021 threatened lives and homes in the area.
The Community Resilience Team is led by residents for residents, focusing on providing emergency preparedness information. The network links to emergency agencies, boosts awareness of local disaster lists and combines resources to improve the resilience of individuals, families and the community.
Since its inception The Community Resilience Team has produced two vital documents “A Resilient Community” and “Helping Our Community to be Better Prepared for the next emergency”. These resources aim to educate the community on how to formulate their own emergency plans and give them opportunities to contribute to the wellbeing of their community through a volunteer support network.
Winner: Save the Children Australia
Save the Children Australia has developed and facilitated a child and youth-led process of change to better meet the needs of vulnerable children in communities impacted by the 2019-2020 bushfires.
‘Our Voice’ successfully supported nearly 400 children and young people engage with local decision-makers, enabling them to become change agents in local emergency management planning. It also explored ways to embed their unique needs in ongoing local community governance.
As one participant stated, “Our voices are important because we have different perspectives to adults and many perspectives are better than just a few”. Concurrently, Our Voice facilitated a shared vision for children and young people’s contribution in local community planning, with 70 adults in decision-making roles, including local council and emergency services staff, also trained on authentic child participation.
Highly Commended: Bushfire Building Council of Australia
FORTIS House is a community recovery project, led by the Bushfire Building Council of Australia (BBCA), supported by NRMA Insurance and Shoalhaven City Council.
The urgent need to adapt buildings brought together Australia’s leading disaster resilience experts, architects, engineers, builders and communities to develop the collection of free resources to make it easier and more affordable for Australians to build sustainable houses resilient to bushfires, floods, storms, heatwaves, cyclones, mould, and pests.
The community-led design process can be replicated in any community, and empowers community members to participate in, and lead their own, resilience and recovery journeys and deliver positive outcomes that meet community needs.
FORTIS promotes resilience equity by providing free designs and guidance for all Australians and developing more affordable solutions that can be scaled up or down to suit all budgets.
This world first community-led resilient house design was developed alongside Shoalhaven NSW residents affected by bushfires, storms, and floods in 2019-20, to help Australians avoid the heartache of losing their home.
Local Government Award
Winner: Bellingen Shire Council
As a regional community with limited services, Bellingen Shire Council knew they’d have to advocate and coordinate to support their community through the Covid-19 pandemic. To ensure medical and other service needs were able to be met, the Council brought together a local group of community members to focus efforts in areas of clinical support, community preparedness and resilience, information, and business support.
The Pandemic Response Group (PRG) led by Bellingen Shire Council came together in early March 2020 and is a collaborative of community groups, community members, Chambers of Commerce, the clinician profession, and service providers. The PRG successfully advocated for a Covid testing clinic in Bellingen and implemented initiatives for communications and community support of vulnerable people.
When the Delta wave hit and vaccinations were rolling out, the PRG was stood up again to manage a holistic community-wide approach, being a hub for creating unique projects and obtaining services to carry the community through.
Highly Commended: Shoalhaven City Council
Outside main urban areas of population, many regional communities are isolated and dependent upon single road access, single sources of power connectivity to the grid and poor telecommunication coverage. Power grids, telecommunications and internet are wholly dependent on ground-based infrastructure which is susceptible to disruption or failure from the effects of drought, fire, flood, storms, or high winds. A pandemic adds additional challenges.
In the Shoalhaven, the notable increase in frequency of extreme weather events has amplified the impact of low reliability of ground-based power and telecommunications on community’s situational awareness.
The Shoalhaven Recovery into Resilience Project synchronises community participation in planning and readiness, with technology to provide year-round access to timely, accurate, and authoritative community information. The Project’s installations use renewable energy, batteries, and satellite connectivity to assure undisrupted, accurate community information which builds confidence and empowers community’s resilience to manage future scenarios and adaptive pathways to overcome them.
Highly Commended: Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils
Heat Smart Western Sydney engaged with hundreds of federal, state and local stakeholders to understand how Western Sydney is currently managing heatwaves. It developed a robust heatwave resilience framework outlining 25 recommendations for improving heatwave management in Western Sydney and the coordinated action required to deliver these recommendations.
At the grass-roots level, Heat Smart Western Sydney worked with local councils, local health districts and community-based organisations like the Red Cross, to develop and deliver a suite of resources and workshops focused on building the capacity of communities and local organisations to manage their own heat risks. This included in-language workshops and materials, and partnerships to ensure ongoing delivery and capacity building.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
Winner: Mackillop Family Services — Good Grief
Stormbirds are said to foreshadow storms and disasters. Mackillop has named their disaster resilience mental health and wellbeing program after these extraordinary birds. From their on-the-ground experience, MacKillop knows that the changes and losses following a natural disaster can be traumatic, complex, and ongoing, particularly for vulnerable communities.
The Stormbirds program strengthens the resilience and preparedness of diverse groups of children and young people to manage and overcome trauma, by helping them to build an understanding of change, loss and grief, whilst developing skills in communication, decision-making and problem-solving.
Additionally, the Stormbirds program builds the professional capacity of school communities to manage sustainable responses to the complex impacts of grief experienced by children following bushfires and floods.
Highly Commended: Maurie Voisey-Barlin
The Covid-19 pandemic saw residential aged care facilities locked down to reduce risk of infection to residents. The residents of the facilities were unable to see family and friends for many months.
Since 2017, Maurie Voisey-Barlin has delivered creative therapeutic engagement at 5 residential care facilities across the NSW Hunter region. In response to Covid-19, he adapted his program to be delivered to residents through windows at facilities. It became known as “Window Therapy”. Following the increased restrictions with the onset of the Delta strain, the program was expanded to incorporate online engagement via Zoom, which became known as “Zoom Mates”.
Maurie now shares his programs with other practitioners in the region
and across Australia.
Winner: Sue Curtis
Based in Wollongong, Sue Curtis took this winning photo in Appin, Wollondilly Shire in 2021.
Sue says, “Training is key for fighting fires, you know your job, the backup plan and that your team will be behind you. The resilience of each team member is linked to the resilience of the entire team to assess a situation, react, and then adapt as events evolve. Resilience is built through the training and the experience of each crew member, together as a team.
Confidence in the team is vital in real time emergencies as well as the post-fire recovery phase for both the individual and rebuilding communities.”