Finalists announced for the 2017 Resilient Australia Awards

An animal welfare initiative, state fire services, local councils, primary schools and a family affected by Tropical Cyclone Debbie are among the eight finalists shortlisted for the 2017 national Resilient Australia Awards (RAA), managed by the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) and sponsored by the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department.

Run in conjunction with states and territories, the awards program showcases innovative approaches in communities across Australia, who are leading the way in making the country better prepared for disasters and emergencies.

The awards are divided into three categories: the Resilient Australia National Award (open to community groups, government and business), the Resilient Australia National School Award and the Resilient Australia National Photography Award.

Among the three finalists for the National Award is the Equi – Evac Centre Network, an evacuation planning project carried out by the City of Mandurah in Western Australia to support the equestrian community to care for horses in times of disaster. Also nominated as a finalist in this category is the Logan City Council in Queensland, which, in partnership with Griffith University students and a non-profit social enterprise, designed and installed an innovative flood warning system to help save lives on roads.

In the National School Award, Victoria’s Strathewen Primary School and the Arthurs Creek/Strathewen CFA have been shortlisted for a collaborative project to enhance bushfire education in the region, which included the creation of a short film to promote better understanding of the Fire Danger Rating.

The St Ives North Public School in New South Wales has also been shortlisted for the school award with their initiative Project Firestorm, which used problem-based learning strategies to teach students about bushfires and disaster resilience.

Another finalist in the category is the rural Tasmanian township of Dunalley, which rebuilt a temporary school in just forty days after the 2013 bushfires, through the collective efforts of government, local parents, donors and volunteers.

In the National Photography Award category a poignant image named ‘First sight of relief’ has been shortlisted. It was taken during Tropical Cyclone Debbie and depicts three children and a dog awaiting rescue from the SES after being stranded for three days.

Stuart Ellis, AIDR CEO, said the national finalists for this year’s awards display excellent leadership and collaboration in their initiatives, which will help raise awareness in communities around Australia to safeguard against disaster.

“Each of the 2017 finalists have shown exemplary leadership in their initiatives, which will help to build resilience in their communities, as well as inform and inspire the wider network of individuals and organisations in the Australian resilience sector,” he said.

“Preparing for emergencies and disaster requires a proactive and collaborative approach, where knowledge is shared and communities are empowered to enhance their own preparedness and ability to recover.

“The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience recognises the importance of acknowledging the people who are making an impact in this space and we’re pleased to be able to celebrate their achievements at the Resilience Australia Awards ceremony in November.”

The finalists will gather at the national awards ceremony hosted by AIDR on Thursday, November 23 in Sydney.

National Award

  • Equi - Evac Centre Network (Western Australia)
    The Equi - Evac Centre Network is an evacuation planning project designed to assist the equestrian community in managing and protecting horses in times of disaster. The successful outcomes of this project included raising awareness and empowering community members to care for animals in emergencies, and, informing local government emergency management and animal welfare plans. The project was funded by the 2016/17 All West Australians Reducing Emergencies (AWARE) program and facilitated by the City of Mandurah.
  • Flooded Road Smart Warning System (Queensland)
    The Flooded Road Smart Warning System project saves lives by reducing the risk of vehicles being driven into floodwaters, through innovative low cost automatic warning signs powered by recycled laptop batteries. The project is a Logan City Council initiative designed and delivered with assistance from Griffith University students and in partnership with not-for-profit social enterprise Substation 33. Substation 33 provides training and support to disadvantaged Logan residents through an e-waste recycling business.
  • Emergency Ready Communities (Victoria)
    This project is a collaborative effort between Wyndham and Melton City Councils, recognising the fundamental role of social capital and social resources in building disaster resilient communities through a leadership program which developed 11 emergency ready community project briefs published in the Australian Journal of Emergency Management among other initiatives.

National School Award

  • Project FireStorm (New South Wales)
    The St Ives North Public School Project FireStorm addressed educational outcomes of the K-6 NSW syllabus for the Australian Curriculum with emphasis on geography and science. The project supported an integrated approach to teaching and learning about bushfires through the use of problem-based learning strategies. The project is now used as a case study to support teachers to deliver bushfire education across NSW.
  • Rebuilding Dunalley Primary School After the 2013 Fires Project (Tasmania)
    In 2013 the town of Dunalley was devastated by bushfire that destroyed the local school, police station and bakery. The community rallied together to rebuilt a fully functioning temporary school in approximately 40 days, ready for occupancy by the 120 students and their teachers only two days after the scheduled start of the 2013 school year.
  • Strathewen Education Partnership - Claymation (Victoria)
    Strathewen was one of many communities affected by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, In 2016, Strathewen Primary School implemented a program relating to bushfire risk, which focused on helping children to ‘love where they live’ once again. This project used claymation video to creatively engage students about fire behaviour and the risks of living in a high fire danger area and encourage them to think about ways of reducing and managing these risks.

National Photography Award

  • First Sight of Relief (North Queensland)
    In March this year, an Airlie Beach family were faced with Category 4 Tropical Cyclone Debbie. With no phone, internet or power they were completely cut from the outside world; with no ability to contact loved ones and let them know they were safe. After three days of isolation, SES crew cut their way up the road and to their house.
  • Bushfire-Ready Neighbourhoods in Action (Tasmania)
    The Lachlan community in Southern Tasmania was part of round 1 (2014-16) of the Tasmania Fire Service Bushfire-Ready Neighbourhoods program. This image captures a hands-on community resilience activity led by the local brigade depicting how a fire can take hold.

National ceremony results

More about the awards program