2021 Resilient Australia Awards winners

The 22nd annual Resilient Australia Awards were awarded at the National Awards Ceremony at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne on 8 December 2021.

The Resilient Australia Awards recognise initiatives by schools, communities, local and state governments and businesses that showcase innovation and exemplary practice across Australia, and images that capture resilience in action. Together, these submissions build and inspire community connections and foster resilience to disaster and emergencies.

Despite a challenging year with the ongoing impact of COVID-19, this year's entries across all categories was outstanding. AIDR congratulates all entrants, finalists and winners, whose projects demonstrate that by working together we can build safer, more connected and better prepared communities, as well as inspire others to help create a more resilient Australia.   

AIDR was pleased to be joined by Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie to award the recipients in Melbourne.

Senator Bridget McKenzie with the National Award Winners from Fire and Rescue NSW


Resilient Australia National Award 

Winner: Evidence-based Fire Safety Education for Children (New South Wales)
Fire and Rescue NSW

To ensure the implementation of best practice FSE, Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) conducted a comprehensive study. The results were not only used to inform the review and revision of FRNSW’s approach to FSE but have been shared through peer-reviewed publications, conference presentation, and the provision of findings to other fire services. Through the delivery of evidence-based programs, and the sharing of knowledge, FRNSW has contributed to effective and sustainable mechanisms that enhance resilience to fire.

Highly Commended:

  • Happy Valley Community Bushfire Risk Management Project (Queensland)
  • Spend With Us Marketplace (New South Wales)


National School Award

Winner: Beyond COVID-19 (Queensland)
Pimlico State High School

Pimlico State High School’s Beyond COVID-19 initiative began out of a necessity to support the school community through the fast-changing early stages of the 2020 global pandemic and quickly developed into a holistic approach to fostering resilience and maintaining both staff and student wellbeing. The school used learnings from the 2019 Townsville floods about the importance of wellbeing and resilience to foreground its response to the pandemic.

Highly Commended:

  • Central West Health and Wellbeing Day - Longreach State High School (Queensland)
  • Resilience Project - St John's School (Queensland)


National Mental Health and Wellbeing Award

Joint Winner: Be You Bushfire Response Program (Victoria)
Beyond Blue, headspace, Early Childhood Australia and Emerging Minds

The Be You Bushfire Response Program provides mental health support to early learning services and schools, recognising the role of learning communities in promoting positive mental health and their unique position in strengthening disaster recovery and resilience as part of their local community. The program offered specialist trauma support and guidance, recovery planning and service mapping to address the ongoing mental health impacts of the bushfires and cumulative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, floods and drought.

Joint Winner: Recovery Capitals (ReCap) (Victoria)
University of Melbourne, Massey University, Australian Red Cross, Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC

The Recovery Capitals (ReCap) project aimed to support mental health and wellbeing after disasters by providing accessible, engaging and evidence-based resources that offer guidance on how to apply key recovery principles in practice. The project encourages cooperation between the many people, organisations and sectors with a role to play in supporting mental health and wellbeing in disaster contexts.

Highly Commended:

  • Wellbeing Framework and Resource Guide for Mental Health in Young Adult Fire and Emergency Service Volunteers (South Australia)


Suncorp Resilient Australia National Community Award

Winner: Bushfire Recovery Program (New South Wales)
Royal Far West

Following consultation with communities impacted by the 2019/2020 Black Summer bushfires and experts in disaster recovery, Royal Far West’s Bushfire Recovery Program was developed to support the wellbeing and resilience of children impacted by bushfires and reduce the likelihood of long-term adverse effects. The program is delivered through Primary Schools and Preschools, supporting children and the adults around them including parents and carers, educators, local services and community leaders.

Highly Commended:

  • Bushfire Community Legal Project - Community Legal Centres SA (South Australia)
  • Disaster Resilience in CALD Communities (Queensland)
  • Journey of Hope (Victoria)


National Local Government Award

Winner: Council Ready - Driving Disaster Resilience (South Australian)
Local Government Association of South Australia

The Council Ready program was developed to support all South Australian councils to produce tailored emergency management plans to reduce the impacts of emergencies on their communities. This program provided best-practice guidance on local government emergency management planning and implemented this through a strengths-based capacity building approach.

Highly Commended:

  • Bushfire Recovery Rebuilding and Resilience Program (New South Wales)
  • P-CEP in Mackay (Queensland)


National Photography Award

Winner: Still Standing - We and The Trees (New South Wales)
Virginia Eastman

Throughout the 2019/2020 Black Summer, Blaxland Bushfire Brigade joined the great golden army that stood up across Australia to protect our communities. This photo taken by Virginia Eastman along 'The Oaks' Fire Trail, shows a point where the fire had been particularly fierce. Everything was stripped of life and colour, whilst firefighter Tom was like a golden yellow beacon of hope.

Highly Commended:

  • The Resilience of Soxy – Adam Meyer (South Australia)
  • Just Another Monday Night – Jacqueline Quaine (Victoria)


Read more about this year's winners, highly commended and finalist projects here.