20th Resilient Australia Awards: national winners announced

Interactive learning, education partnerships, resilience for young people and an emotive portrait of a man who lost his home in the recent Tasmanian fires were all highlighted at the 2019 Resilient Australia National Awards Ceremony in Adelaide.

National winners of the 20th Resilient Australia Awards were recently announced in Adelaide, showcasing the diverse range of disaster resilience initiatives being undertaken across Australia.

At just 24, Sarah Hamilton took out the 2019 Resilient Australia National Award for her innovative SES Badge for West Australian Scouts. Over 500 scouts have received the badge, which teaches them to value the importance of individuals in building community resilience.

“I think secretly all SES members did scouts in their youth, it’s a huge common connection, so why don’t we just establish that appropriately and have a badge and that pathway available for them?

 “It’s every SES members’ dream to wear this badge!” Ms Hamilton said.

The Sunshine Coast Council received the inaugural National Local Government Award for their ‘Get Ready Schools Program’. The initiative involves council staff delivering interactive presentations to school students to build their awareness and preparation for natural hazards and emergencies.

“With something that affects everybody, them as well as their parents and obviously their grandparents, there’s so much information to be shared.

“They’re getting it firsthand when they’re young, and hopefully that will stay with them, and they can build on that,” Eudlo resident Christine Davis said.

Ms Davis’ granddaughter Annaleisa has undertaken the program at her primary school.

“I think I would be pretty prepared and know what to grab if I had to evacuate,” she said.

The program also benefits teachers, who are using interactive learning activities to deliver the program.

“As well as learning about natural disasters and being receivers of this knowledge, they are also able to be sharers and teachers,” Rachel Kalle, a grade five teacher said.

The bushfire education program at Strathewen Primary School was awarded the National Schools Award. The school community has worked with the Country Fire Authority to deliver learning modules, which teach students about the fundamentals of bushfires.

Dr Briony Towers, who researches child-centred disaster education at RMIT University and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, says the program has long term effects, rather than being a “one off”.

“The benefits of this program is that it’s become really apart of the school culture,” Dr Towers said.

Dr Robert Glasser says children play a crucial role in education and community resilience.

“Children have a huge role to play in reducing risk in their communities, in managing once a disaster strikes, and also in helping support the recovery afterwards,” Dr Glasser said.

Dr Glasser is the former Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, and featured as the opening keynote at the Australian Disaster Resilience Conference earlier this year.

James Spencer won the National Photography Award for his image of Tasmanian resident Dale ‘Hairyman’ Fullard, who is pictured sitting along the Huon River. Mr Fullard lost this property during the Tasmanian bushfires earlier this year.

“It was a strange feeling to walk away and not know what you might come back to.

“It’s amazing how disasters bring communities together,” Mr Fullard said.

A special award was also given for two national initiatives, who are making exceptional contributions to the disaster resilience sector.

The Community Trauma Toolkit builds the mental health resilience of infants and young people after a natural hazard. The ‘Community Trauma Toolkit’ is a collaboration between The Australian National University, The University of Queensland and Emerging Minds.

The Gender and Disasters Pod in Melbourne was also recognised for their national initiatives on domestic violence and disaster resilience. Over 400 delegates from the emergency services have taken part in training, which addresses the increased domestic violence that may occur after a natural disaster.

AIDR Executive Director Amanda Leck said the award winners illustrate exciting and creative approaches to resilience, with a high level of impact.

“The quality of entries has been impressive.

"I wish to send my heartfelt thanks to all who submitted projects and photos this year, your efforts are inspiring,” Ms Leck said.

The Resilient Australia Awards is proudly sponsored by the Australian Government in partnership with the states and territories and managed by the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR).

Applications for the 2020 awards program will open early next year.

Learn more about the Resilient Australia Awards.

Resilient Australia National Award

Winner: Introduction of State Emergency Service Scout Badge (WA)

Sarah Hamilton and Scouts WA

Highly commended:

  • Flood Safe Short Films (NT)
    NT Emergency Service
  • 10 Years of NSW Rural Fire Service 'Prepare.Act.Survive' Campaigns (NSW)
    NSW Rural Fire Service

Resilient Australia National Significance Award

Addressing domestic violence in disasters through implementing National Gender and Emergency Management Guidelines (VIC)

Gender and Disaster (GAD) Pod

Community Trauma Toolkit (ACT)

Emerging Minds and The Australian National University

Resilient Australia National Local Government Award

Winner: Sunshine Coast Get Ready Schools Program (QLD)

Sunshine Coast Council

Highly commended:

  • English and Emergencies: Learn and Prepare (VIC)
    Hume City Council
  • Community Champions (QLD)
    Redland City Council

Resilient Australia National School Award

Winner: A Walk Through Strathewen's Fire History (VIC)

Strathewen Primary School

Highly commended:

  • Connecting the Divide: Swayneville School Mural (QLD)
    Swayneville State School
  • When the Fire Met the Sea (NSW)
    Tathra Public School

Resilient Australia National Photography Award

Winner: Huon Strong (TAS)

James Spencer

Highly commended:

  • Harnessed Skill (WA)
    Lurline Byles
  • Pierces Creek After Fire (ACT)
    Marta Yebra