Monterey Fire Ready
Led by: Monterey Secondary College, Magenta Safety Training, Parks Victoria
Monterey Fire Ready is an education program developed by Monterey Secondary College in collaboration with Magenta Safety Training and Parks Victoria. Through a Public Safety Certificate in Fire Awareness, students at the college learn a range of practical skills about fire, such as safe clothing, how to respond to a car accident, and electrical safety in the home. The program also connects with Parks Victoria, where students are involved in fuel monitoring in their local area.
The benefits of the program have been wide-ranging and about more than just fire awareness. For students, working with firefighters on practical skills has motivated them to learn, provided mentors, opened up new career pathways and deterred arson.
Judges commended the project for effectively promoting fire safety and for its transformative impact on students.
Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre (AWBEC)
Led by: Cockatoo Community, Graham Simpson AFSM, Ash Wednesday Memorial Project Committee (AWMPC), Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre (AWBEC)
Supported by: Heritage Victoria, Cardinia Shire Council
Once a building used primarily for Kindergarten classes, the Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre was at risk of being demolished until the community of Cockatoo intervened. Falling into a state of disrepair, the Kindergarten closed in 2005 as the building became uninhabitable. With the council looking to demolish the site, the Cockatoo community rallied to save an iconic part of the community’s history.
On 16 February, 1983 (Ash Wednesday), the building provided refuge for more than 300 people, as well as their pets. Their view from the building on the day ‘showed the full horror of the town burning down with local men and firefighters from the Cockatoo volunteer fire brigade involved in ensuring the bitumen roof didn’t catch fire’. Having protested that the building should be repurposed as a memorial to the tragic day, the Cockatoo council successfully gained heritage listing for the site in 2011, allowing the community to proceed in designing the new centre. In 2016, the new centre opened, and now serves as both a memorial and learning centre, covering topics such as the impact of bushfire, community recovery, biodiversity regeneration and more.
Best Laid Plans
Led by: Jan Osmotherly
Supported by: Wangaratta CFA Brigade Group, Benalla CFA Brigade Group, Country Fire Authority
In the aftermath of the December 2015 Indigo Barnawartha fires, filmmaker Jan Osmortherly began a project to educate schoolchildren about the importance of being prepared for the threat of bushfire. In collaboration with the Country Fire Authority, Jan organised two prototype workshops that took place in local school communities, as well as producing awareness videos aimed at parents and their children. The film itself was the centerpiece of the school workshops, which also featured a Q and A with a mother and child affected by the Indigo Barnawartha fires, a tour of a CFA fire truck and a singalong to an original music video.
The workshops were able to motivate children to consider their own roles and responses in times of emergency, as well as motivating families to consider their preparedness for the fire season. 100% of attendees at the events reported an increase in their fire awareness, while the workshops also acted as a platform for children and their parents to engage with each other about fire risk.