East Gippsland Building Community Resilience
Early in 2014 the East Gippsland Network of Neighbourhood Centres and the Centre for Rural Communities leaders formed a partnership in response to the concerns of a number of small local communities about the level of planning to work with communities when fire impacted.
The partnership established community hubs in six communities, employing a local facilitator in each to run study circles incorporating community and relevant regional services. A study circle kit “Building Community Futures through Cooperation” has also been produced. Relationships between the community and government and service sectors have been strengthened through regular inclusive forums, where local people can showcase initiatives from within their communities, which brought together community members, regional representatives from emergency services, government agencies, and community services to participate in facilitated discussion forums.
This multi-layered project has led to increased recognition in planning for small communities through participation, updating local incident management plans, improved communication strategies utilising community networks and identifying manageable levels of community responsibility during and after an emergency.
This community partnership approach has strengthened relationships, allowed the sharing of stories and given hope to local people. It has encompassed many community members, including children, families and primary schools.
Indigenous Fire Knowledge Project
Landcare groups in north east Victoria are partnering with Traditional Owners to revive the use of traditional fire knowledge. Traditional Owners became involved in the revival of traditional fire knowledge in north east Victoria following devastating fires in the region and have been helped by knowledge shared by Traditional Owners from Cape York. The partners worked together using fire as a land management tool to achieve landscape objectives and provide opportunities for Indigenous people to undertake cultural practices.
In 2013 the Kiewa Catchment Landcare Groups secured Caring for Our Country funding to undertake fire trials in the region and as a partnership they ran a series of events and meetings where local landholders learnt how to better manage fuel loads while preserving the native eco-system using traditional fire management practices. Over 250 people attended two Indigenous Fire Forums held in 2013 and 2014 and over 70 people attended a native grasses field day in 2015, which focussed on using fire as a management tool.
The aims of the fire trials were to measure the impact of fire on weed and exotic species, and to provide local guidelines on how traditional fire knowledge can be incorporated into land management and fuel reduction practices.
Wimmera fire prevention partnership
Wimmera is a high fire prone area in Victoria and in 2015 a fire burnt 4,600 hectares of land near Moyston, killing 1,000 sheep and destroying one house.
Following the fire the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority engaged with local communities to discuss the rehabilitation of the area.
Through this process, Wimmera CMA became aware of concerns parts of the community had about the balance between the protection and enhancement of native vegetation and fire management objectives. Situations have occurred in the past where activities such as revegetation of native vegetation has occurred in areas that could compromise fire prevention and suppression efforts.
The CMA provided a forum for the local Landcare and CFA volunteer organisations to discuss the opportunities and challenges of their activities as they relate to each other’s goals and objectives. High risk areas were identified and ways of displaying these spatially were discussed, developed and tested.
Through this collaboration, high risk issues such as size of project and locations were identified. A series of protocols were developed that allowed for these high-risk activities to be referred to the CFA for consideration, and these are documented at a strategic level through the Wimmera Carbon Ready Plan. This project has directly led to greater collaboration between Natural Resources Management organisations and CFA in the region ensuring potential conflicts are managed and addressed. This has allowed the community to improve its local environment whilst feeling reassured that it is protected from fire threats.
Working as one in South Gippsland!
Victoria’s South Gippsland region is heavily reliant on income generated through tourism, a factor which was recognised by South Gippsland Shire Council who decided to improve the effectiveness of their disaster management planning for economic recovery for local businesses and tourism operators.
Working with the South Gippsland Chamber of Commerce and regional tourism groups, the Business Continuity and Resilience Program sought to make stronger links between the Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committee, businesses and tourism operators. The program delivered group workshops, one-on-one crisis plan preparation, leadership training for a range of business sectors and two scenario days where the need for cohesive working with staff and business leaders was highlighted. It has also provided participants with a range of resources to help them with crisis planning such as the “Are you ready – surviving small business disaster” toolkit.
As a result of this work, the council established a shire-wide Business Emergency Leadership Group and equipped them with training and tools to enable them to assist other business operators to develop and prepare emergency plans. With new skills and knowledge developed and through contingency planning and ongoing support, South Gippsland businesses are empowered to unite and support each other during crisis.
Additionally this important work has enabled the development of a more cohesive local action plan that directly meets the needs of local business owners and tourism operators, leading to greater resilience within the South Gippsland business community.
Adopt a hydrant
CFA Riddells Creek Fire brigade have a time consuming task of periodically assessing, maintaining and checking the access to fire hydrants around Riddells Creek. These checks are vital to make sure access to a water supply is quick and easily made available for fire fighters. The project’s aim is to help both local services and the community in making sure hydrants/markers are checked and any faults are reported.
Macedon Ranges Running Club implemented an Adopt a Hydrant program in their region. Their group worked to incorporate Hydrant checks into their weekly runs.
The club worked with Western Water to develop a series of maps that included the locations of the hydrants in the region and then provided the maps to their local CFA.
If the club identified any faults on their run, they recorded them and reported them to Western Water ensuring timely repairs.
Macclesfield Disaster Recovery Plan
After a series of natural disasters in the region left many of the 1,000 Macclesfield residents cut off from traditional recovery resources, the Macclesfield Recovery Group set about developing a series of resources for their residents to improve community resilience.
Through a series of workshops, information nights and social media advertisements, the group went from five representatives to 25 representatives.
The group identifies the needs, strengths and weaknesses of the community and identifies important community infrastructure, local skillsets and what resources would be required to manage their needs during the first 72 hours of an emergency. They developed the framework for the Macclesfield Disaster Recovery Plan and the Macclesfield Disaster Procedures Manual from the obtained information.
The work completed by the group resulted in:
- the development of the Macclesfield Disaster draft Procedure Manual
- the development series of mock disaster training
- increased social connectedness of community members
- increase the employability of group members through specialist up-skilling such as psychological first aid
- empowering community leadership opportunities in the event of a disaster
- providing a conduit for Macclesfield fire brigade members to access specialist psycho social training outside of training provided by CFA.