National Award Winners
About the awards
National Local Govt Award
National School Award
National Photography Award
National Community Award
Sponsored by Suncorp
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National Awards Ceremony
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The Resilient Australia Awards is a nation-wide program to recognise and promote initiatives that strengthen community disaster resilience. Since 2000, the awards have showcased innovation and exemplary practice across Australia; celebrating achievements that might otherwise go unseen, and inspiring others to build greater disaster resilience in their own communities.
With the exception of multi-jurisdictional projects, submissions are judged in their state or territory, and jurisdictional winners considered for national awards.
The Australian Government is proud to sponsor the Resilient Australia Awards in partnership with the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience and the states and territories.
Birdie's Tree universal resources: Growing together through natural disasters, Queensland Centre for Perinatal and Infant Mental Health
Birdie’s Tree supports the mental health and resilience of expectant and new parents, babies and young children through natural disasters and disruptive events. The Birdie’s Tree universal resources are a suite of colourful, child-friendly resources to help families prepare for, cope with and recover from such events. With over 8 storybooks, Birdie and Mr Frog cope with flood, fire, cyclone, earthquake, drought, heat wave, community illness and pandemic.
The online games help children learn about weather, natural hazards and emergency management; explore the ‘big feelings’ that go with these situations; and develop confidence to prepare, cope and recover. Parents, teachers, carers, emergency responders and health professionals can get more support through information and resources linked to the website. Birdie’s Tree resources can be freely accessed by computer, tablet or mobile phone.
ABC Emergency Broadcasting, ABC
The ABC’s role as an emergency broadcaster was critical during the 2019-20 season. ABC Local Radio teams provided emergency broadcasting for more than 950 incidents – a threefold increase on previous years. Besides those relating to natural hazards, the ABC also delivered more than 3,000 emergency broadcasts related to COVID-19. The aim was to help the community prepare for, respond to and recover from emergency events. It went beyond simply reporting on a crisis and involved hundreds of hours of rolling coverage and hundreds of shift changes for ABC personnel as the emergencies escalated.
The ABC work involved the creation of new community messages for use in radio, social media and online content around preparing for emergencies. These aimed to build up a community’s knowledge in advance to aid their overall resilience into the future. By giving communities information before an emergency, individuals would be better informed if/when disaster struck.
Building Australia's Residential Flood Resilience, JDA CO Pty Ltd
Flood resilience is the ability to prepare for, live through, and recover from a flood event with the least amount of damage and financial stress on homeowners as possible.
Their "Building Australia's Flood Resilience" initiative began almost 10 years ago and comprises a series of interconnected projects. What began as pro-bono grassroots action in the wake of the 2011 Queensland Floods, has grown into work for Government, non-Government, industry and academic clients.
They had developed a community ‘build back better’ program; had designed a number of flood resilient private homes; written the QLD State Government’s residential flood resilience guide; designed the Flood Resilient Homes Program for Brisbane City Council which is now being rolled out; written the flood resilience guides for both the City of Gold Coast and Melbourne Water; and successfully lobbied the insurance industry to recognise flood resilient design and lower their clients’ insurance premiums accordingly.
Drought and Climate Adaptation Program, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Queensland
Imagine farming in Australia's most disaster-prone state as well as managing one of the world's highest variable rainfall areas. This is the daily challenge for Queensland farmers. The Drought and Climate Adaptation Program (DCAP) is helping farmers better manage drought and climate risks through improved seasonal forecast products, tools and on-property activities. The best climate scientists, government and non-government agencies, farmers and industry leaders are working together on a number of cutting-edge projects targeting the grazing, cropping, sugarcane and horticulture industries. Program evaluation is demonstrating how farmers are adopting new technologies and practices to improve their management decisions. Queensland farmers are sharing their stories of management changes which show their improved ability to manage climate risks that challenge their business.
Australian Sikh Support
Australian Sikh Support started their Hay for Help project 2018 that helped the Cobar (NSW) community with 4 B-Double loads of hay. Their Bushfire Disaster Relief project went live in November 2019 to provide aid and assistance to communities in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales that were severely impacted.
They helped with the rehabilitation of communities by sending essential items, safety and farm equipment to the communities that lost their home and livelihood to the bushfires. They cleared debris, provided fresh meals and organised multiple fundraisers for the affected towns.
Australian Sikh Support’s Pandemic Project provides cooked food and grocery kits to people in isolation, international students, frontline health workers in Hospitals in SA and doorstep delivery of essential items to families in need in Victoria.
Black Summer Relief Operations, Disaster Relief Australia
With 20 community and international operations, Disaster Relief Australia (formerly known as Team Rubicon Australia) was launched in August 2016 to provide veteran-led disaster relief services both in Australia and across the Region. Disaster Relief Australia deployed Disaster Relief Teams to multiple bushfire impacted communities from September 2019 until March 2020 including the northern rivers area of Northern NSW, the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island in SA, to Buchan in Victoria and Cobargo on the NSW South Coast, to provide assistance to bushfire affected residents during the Black Summer bushfires.
DRA offers a unique opportunity to the veteran community to be part of a humanitarian effort with a united purpose, mission, and intensity like military service. DRA volunteers are also emergency services personnel and civilians who join with military veterans to form DRA Disaster Relief Teams.
Business Emergency Preparation Toolkit, Department of State Growth Tasmania
Business Tasmania are dedicated to supporting our business community to build that resilience in the face of adversity. Tasmanian Business have been hit hard by disasters, 2016 floods, 2018/19 bushfires, and 2020 speaks for itself. The extremely difficult events of the 2018/19 bushfires and the subsequent communication we had with businesses was the impetus to create the Emergency Preparation Toolkit.
It is a simple toolkit to help business owners and operators consider what they need to effectively mitigate the risk of unexpected emergencies, and help prepare for a successful recovery. The business community has embraced this toolkit, because their firsthand experiences informed the project. It takes the groundwork out of simple preparations to withstand major disruptions, and made the task of continuity planning less daunting for our small business owners and operators.
The Principles of Effective Warnings, Forewarned Pty Ltd
The Principles of Effective Warnings is a book designed to help train people in the theory and practice of creating, distributing and publishing warnings for natural and manmade hazards. The workbook is based on the theory from academics and incudes debut work of trauma psychologist Dr Rob Gordon. In addition, it includes contents around warnings for vulnerable people; as well as practical work on the effective application of warnings - timeliness; scalability; frequency; lag times; warnings pathways. The workbook proposes the use of a new element to the warning pathway - ''education warnings'' - and for the first time outlines the role of the ''independent warning officer.''
Heart Safe Communities, Ambulance Victoria
Over 6000 Victorians suffer an out of hospital cardiac arrest every year. Tragically, only one in ten people currently survive. A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops and immediate action is critical to save a life. In fact, for every minute without life-saving intervention, a person’s chance of surviving decreases by 10%. That’s why it is vital bystanders act quickly. When a bystander performs cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) a person is twice as likely to survive, and if an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is also used, this survival rate dramatically increases.
The Heart Safe Community program is a joint partnership between Ambulance Victoria and Heart Foundation that aims to improve survival from out of hospital cardiac arrest in communities across Victoria. This is done through building community awareness, capability and confidence to respond to a person in cardiac arrest while an ambulance is on the way.
ABS products measuring the impact of COVID-19, Australian Bureau of Statistics
The emergence of COVID-19 accentuated the importance of the ABS’ ongoing indicators of the economy and society and also, just as significantly, it created a demand for new, more up-to-date and specific data on the impacts of the pandemic.
Using a flexible, technology-based approach, the ABS was able to provide a series of data publications that have provided insights into the impacts of COVID-19 on business and household behaviour. These targeted data sets are assisting the government, business and community sectors to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on Australians. Partnering with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and using the Single Touch Payroll (STP) system, used by businesses to report information about wages, superannuation and tax payments for their employees to the ATO, the ABS was able to report on how the economy was quickly changing.
NSW SES Ohana Project - Get Ready Animals, NSW State Emergency Service
New South Wales
In Hawaiian culture, the word ‘Ohana’ means family and for the 63% of Australians who are animal owners, their family includes the myriad of animals that live in their homes and on their properties. In times of natural disaster, these beloved animals are often caught up in the chaos, sometimes resulting in fatal consequences.
Recognising the need to engage animal owners to plan for their animals in emergencies, the NSW State Emergency Service embarked on the Ohana Project. It gathered a family of over 30 stakeholders from emergency services, government, academia, animal related industries, interest groups, and the community, to understand the motivators and barriers to keeping people and their animals safe in emergencies. The insights gained informed public information messaging, improving evacuation centre arrangements and led to the creation of an extensive range of resources all captured within the new Get Ready Animals website.
Coronavirus Youth Design Challenge, Young Change Agents
New South Wales
The National "Coronavirus Youth Design Challenge" by NFP Young Change Agents, saw hundreds of young Australians aged 10-21 identify problems they saw as a result of Covid-19, and develop, prototype, validate and pitch solutions using a design thinking framework. Lucas, aged 10 created a voice app that helps kids study from home. Cienna (11) and Tayt (9) prototyped a solution to help older Australian connect to digital services. April, 14, helped younger children understand Covid-19 through a children's book.
Using a flexible learning approach, teacher kits and curriculum links were provided FOC to schools and parent guides were available. Judges including from Google, Microsoft and Telstra Foundation selected winners who went on to receive prizes and mentoring. It was so successful that we ran an additional Round in May-June. Finalists were featured on Channel Nine News, ABC online and in the Courier Mail.
Bushfire.io - democratised data for crisis decision-making
As Australia faced an unprecedented national bushfire emergency, a small group of tech-savvy citizens in Canberra noticed that Australians were having difficulty accessing the information they needed to make critical decisions. The public and firefighters may have known a fire was in the area, but was the weather pushing it towards them? What roads were closed? And what if they needed to know what was happening in another state or territory?
So this group did something about it. They created Bushfire.io - an bushfire situational awareness platform that provides the only whole-of-Australia picture of bushfire activity, road closures, wind modelling, Bureau of Meteorology weather observations, satellite-detected hot-spots (fire-fronts), and firefighting aircraft movements.
Within days of launching, friends-telling-friends about the platform saw it being used by more than 100,000 citizens, firefighters and other government personnel.
Roleystone Bushfire Preparedness, Roleystone Volunteer Fire Brigade
Roleystone Volunteer Fire Brigade’s Community Engagement project aimed to improve the safety and resilience of the Roleystone Community by empowering community members to better prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from, bushfire.
The project aimed to encourage shared responsibility for bushfire resilience, seeking an understanding of community’s acceptance and personalisation of risk, and using the principles of behaviour change to engage with the community in ways that would best effect lasting change.
The brigade partnered with local businesses, community groups and individuals, to ensure community engagement activities were accessed by as many residents as possible, in the ways that best met their needs.
Ask Me What I Need, Next Steps Inc.
New South Wales
Ask me what I need’ Autism Awareness training video for emergency services was funded by the joint State/Commonwealth Natural Disaster Resilience Program through the Office of Emergency Management NSW Justice Community Resilience Innovation Program (CRIP). The end product is a five-minute training video providing basic strategies for emergency services personnel to implement when engaging with youth and adults that identify as autistic in emergency situations. This was the culmination of 14 months of research, community consultations and surveys, steering committee meetings, collaboration and the production of the video from scripting, casting, filming and editing. There are several innovative and unique aspects of this project. It is the first project to address the needs of Autistic adults in relation to emergency services.
Person-Centred Emergency Preparedness (PCEP) Planning for COVID-19 for people with disability, Queenslanders with Disability Network
In partnership, the Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN), University of Sydney and the Queensland Government, launched the Person-Centred Emergency Preparedness (PCEP) Planning for COVID-19. This Planning Guide delivers practical tools and information to assist people with disability (and those who support them) to make a plan for their own individual needs and situation during COVID-19.
This response to COVID-19 redresses the exclusion that people with disability have experienced in accessing emergency information. It was co-led by people with disability so they can have the information, tools and support they need to develop their own emergency and disaster resilience alongside the people who support them and their communities. QDN worked with the Australian Government to make the PCEP for COVID-19 Planning Guide nationally relevant and published an easy read version. The Planning Guide has been endorsed as part of the Department of Health’s national response to COVID-19 for people with disability.
Resilient Central Victoria Rescues, Grows, Cooks and Shares for Food Security, Bendigo Foodshare
Bendigo Foodshare (BFS)’s Rescue, Grow, Cook, Share program is community owned, volunteer based and believe in empowerment not dependence, reflecting partnerships with businesses, services, volunteers and community groups to reduce food poverty.
With a 40% increase in demand for food relief followed by COVD-19, BFS engaged an additional 246 community volunteers, worked with local supermarkets and donors, increasing food rescued from 25,000 to 46,000kgs per month, in spite of panic buying this Mar/Apr. BFS strengthened community connections and support through Farmers for Food Relief, engaged 5 businesses in Cafes for COVID making 829 meals in 2 months through crowd-funding, prepared for economic cliff with 20+ organisations: online Bendigo Community Pantry reducing stigma, improving access to food relief.
PetResQ is a user-friendly app that was designed to assist pet owners in relocating their animals during an emergency. The idea came after the 2016 Yarloop fires in WA, which nearly wiped out the whole town, destroying 181 homes and 2 lives. During the fires, posts to social media asking for assistance increased, however due to the sheer volume of traffic, requests were getting lost. There were requests for all sorts of assistance, with many needing help with animals unanswered for.
PetResQ has two components – rescue; and lost and found. Once all the animal details are loaded into the app, it can take as little as 12 seconds to press a button and ask for help or send out a lost notification. Is there a fire headed your way? Send a request for help to move 2 horses and it will reach only people who can help you move 2 horses. Found an animal? Take a picture and send out a found request and it will go out to every app user within a set distance.
Sherwood Shows the Way, Sherwood Community
Located approximately 20km east of Keith in South Australia’s South East region, the catastrophic fire in Sherwood on 6 January 2018 burnt over 12,000ha of agricultural land, affecting 19 properties and destroying 2 homes. Around 3,000 animals and extensive infrastructure were destroyed with losses estimated at $7.1M. In the days, weeks and months following the fire, the community showed collective vision, determination, and capacity for working together and with support organisations, to exemplify community-led recovery.
In October 2018, community members and the recovery committee organised a “Lessons Learned from the Sherwood Fire and Preparing for the Fire Season” community workshop for the local community. Over 70 people attended. Discussion at this event included topics such as business continuity, insurance, asbestos in buildings and its removal, farm firefighting and preparation for bushfire.
Community Resilience Teams, Australian Red Cross
New South Wales
Community Resilience Teams (CRTs) are an all-hazards approach to preparing communities before disasters; providing community driven response during disasters; and obtaining information on real grassroots needs afterwards. The model is truly community-led and works in all stages of the Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Recovery model.
The CRT model was developed after Tropical Cyclone Debbie caused widespread flooding in Northern NSW in 2017. Local Red Cross Emergency Services volunteers networked with community leaders and held community meetings alongside SES, RFS and Council staff to establish CRTs in a number of villages in Tweed. Communities assess their own risks and priorities and develop local responses – from phone trees, to community champions, joint preparedness, and social connections – to strengthen local community resilience. CRTs are adaptable and have been tested and have worked in fire, flood and pandemic. The model is now expanding beyond Tweed into regions impacted by the Black Summer bushfires.
All Emotions Allowed Here, ArTELIER Tasmania
All too often children are not asked how they feel especially during times of disaster and pandemic. We assume that we are protecting children by not talking about stressful issues but in actual fact we empower them and build their resilience when we give them a voice. 'All emotions allowed here' is a book co-created by ArTELIER Tasmania artists and children in their ‘iso’ bubble, in this extraordinary time of COVID-19. The project aimed to empower children and build their resilience during the COVID-19 Stay at Home policy by enabling them to voice their feelings about their personal experiences. The published book provides a snapshot of children’s thoughts and feelings at a time when their world has changed shape and the mixed emotions that significant change can bring: joy and sadness, new challenges and new opportunities.
Mallacoota Recovers, Mallacoota RSL Sub-Branch
After the devastating fires in Mallacoota over 2019-2020, the Mallacoota Recovers Website became the real time, on-ground tool that directly provided essential services and supplies to the devastated community. It enabled many local community groups and numerous individuals, both in town and elsewhere, to co-ordinate the myriad details of the urgent relief effort. Mallacoota is the first town in Australia to set up and use the system, which allowed donations of nearly $1,000,000 to be funnelled through it to local and GoFundMe sites to directly and immediately assist the local community.
It allowed locals to ask for help, and for volunteers to offer assistance. Coordinating the community response via the site allowed storage/distribution of donations and redirection of excess donations to other fire-affected communities. Those donations included semi-trailers of hay and animal feed, food, water, clothing, and tools. This system is now being used by 18 other towns in Australia.
Disaster Resilience for a Changing Climate Grand Challenge, Thuringowa State School
North Queensland’s Monster Monsoon of 2019 will forever be remembered as an unprecedented flood catastrophe. Schools urgently closed, water swiftly filled suburban streets and distressing alert messages broadcast of imminent flooding and necessary evacuations. The community was facing a challenging disaster.
In the aftermath of this destruction, questions arose about the resilience of young Queenslanders. With climate extremes predicted to increase, how can young people prepare for future disasters? Are they ready for the unexpected impact of climate change?
Through the Queensland Virtual STEM Academy at Thuringowa State High School, students from Queensland schools, connect using a virtual platform to solve the Disaster Resilience for a Changing Climate Grand Challenge. In collaboration with the Townsville City Council, Disaster Management Team, James Cook University and other organisations, students developed resilience and community engagement strategies for staying safe, seeking help and assisting others, before, during and after disaster events.
Year 6 - Exploring Augusta's Emergency Services, Augusta Primary School
Augusta Primary School’s (APS) pilot program, Exploring Emergency Services, is a coordinated effort by APS and local emergency services, to lead change in disaster resilience amongst the Augusta community’s youth and their families.
This program focused on teaching students to understand their local risks, increase their knowledge, skills, understanding and capacity of emergency services, empowered students and their families to take responsibility for their actions, prepare and plan for emergencies, inspired students to consider volunteering and increase social cohesion between students, families, primary school staff, community members and emergency services in the Augusta community.
This program is pivotal in Augusta’s youth understanding their role and responsibility in an emergency. It builds capacity and understanding of community safety and awareness with not only the youth demographic of Augusta, but a cross section of the Augusta community, as the program links in with multiple sectors and groups in the local community.
STEP UP!, Timboon Agriculture Project (TAP), Timboon P-12 School
Imagine this … you are driving along a remote country road and see a car wrapped around a tree, the driver trapped inside. What would you do? How will you respond? Who will come to help you?
A partnership between Timboon P-12 School and volunteers from regional industry, businesses and the community under the Timboon Agriculture Project (TAP) answered these challenges.
The TAP has a history of industry and community groups working closely with students, families and teachers to help them face adversity and build resilience. Do we want students to be aware of the perils of the ocean, prepare for bushfires, save someone’s life with CPR or rescue a trapped family member?
Who better to teach them, than those who do all that and more? Local volunteers working with professional agencies? Why not take the opportunity to promote volunteerism at the same time?
Resilient Hobart, City of Hobart
On the evening of 10 May 2018 Hobart recorded 128 millimetres of rain, a third of which fell in one hour between 10 and 11pm. The downpour doubled the previous May record, becoming known as STEWE (Southern Tasmania Extreme Weather Event).
The rain was funnelled down mountains gullies inundating homes, the university, businesses and community facilities across Greater Hobart. Cars were swept away, power was lost and many services were closed for days. The City of Hobart's 'Resilient Hobart' project is five distinct initiatives that responded to the recovery and resilience needs of impacted individuals, community groups and the broader community.
The project provided an opportunity to hear and learn from experiences, equip community leaders with tools and skills to be able to support their communities now and into the future, and acknowledge the resilience of the people directly and indirectly impacted by this extreme weather event.
Bruce Rocks' Community Supermarket, Shire of Bruce Rock
On Wednesday 25th of March 2020, at the height of the corona virus pandemic, a fire destroyed Bruce Rock’s only supermarket and hardware store. With elderly residents and other community members self-isolating and in need of supplies close to home, Council and the community acted swiftly and immediately established the Shire Hall on the town’s main street as a supermarket, hiring 3 former supermarket staff members to operate the store. Volunteers, supermarket, and shire staff then worked extremely long hours to open the store by Wednesday 1st of April 2020.
Working around the demands of the COVID-19 lockdown, food and equipment was purchased and donations were coordinated. Vegetable boxes were dropped to town residents only days after the fire and the store was open for business within a week. Bruce Rock accommodated diverse community needs, with grocery orders able to be placed by phone, email or drop box.
Scenic Rim Farm Box, Scenic Rim Regional Council
Covid lockdown measures put restrictions on food festivals and country day trips, however the Scenic Rim community found a means to get through this challenging period. A group of local producers, supported by Scenic Rim Regional Council, got together and launched Scenic Rim Farm Box, a new ‘farm to you’ home delivery business which delivers produce and products to front doors throughout Southeast Queensland.
The Scenic Rim Farm Box was designed to fill the gap caused by cancellation of Scenic Rim Eat Local Week due to COVID-19., which pumps $2 million a year into the region's economy and attracting close to 40,000 visitors. Established to promote and sell local produce, filling the void for those who would have attended the event to access farm gates, producers and Scenic Rim food and beverage.
Emergency Management Animation Series, Ipswich City Council
Despite the severity of natural disasters, such as floods, fires, and storms, it's often challenging for Councils to educate the public on how to safely respond to emergency situations.
To challenge the emergency advertising status quo, which similar campaigns in market were proven to be too long and too dry, resulting in low engagement and limited reach, the Ipswich City Council created an animation series, leaning on popular culture references and distributed the series via an integrated marketing campaign across multiple channels. Comprised of three videos – Don’t be a Dinesh, Don’t be a Mary, and Don’t be a Suzy – three different characters were developed to share messaging about floods, bushfires, and storms.
The creative was informed by the insight that over 11 million Australians watch Netflix each year and referenced notable elements and storylines from popular streamed programs.
Success in Building Community Resilience, Gunnedah Shire Council
New South Wales
Gunnedah Shire is predominantly agricultural, producing food and fibres, mostly mixed cropping and beef production. The Mooki and Namoi Rivers meet at the town of Gunnedah, before the Namoi flows westward as part of the Murray-Darling system. Engaging with 26 groups and associations to deliver individual projects, Gunnedah Shire Council has successfully managed a two-year program leveraging grant funding to build community resilience and better position our Shire for reduced impacts and quicker recovery from these recurring events.
Investing in water standpipes, allowing rural fire service access in seven outlying villages, supporting mental health initiatives, improving amenities in six halls used as central marshalling areas in times of crisis, capacity building across volunteer committees, improving engagement and communication with Council as the coordinator of disaster recovery, supporting our visitor economy to increase economic diversity.
The Driveway Project, Nikki Woods
In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and borders and isolation in full swing, Nikki took to the driveways to capture what families have been doing during the very strange time, and get some laughs and smiles going in the community.
The Todd family was one of the first to join the project.
From a Different Angle, Blair Horgan
This photo was taking during a joint training exercise with SES and student Doctors. The aim of the exercise was to train how to deal with mass causalities and the scene.
Toddler of hero father presented with bravery medal, James Morris
New South Wales
Young Harvey Keaton’s father, Geoff, was killed while undertaking firefighting operations in south-western Sydney in December 2019. This photo was taken during Geoff’s funeral service.
It depicts the heart-wrenching moment where NSWRFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons honourably pins a Commissioner Commendation for Bravery, for Geoff, on Harvey’s chest.
After the fire, Marta Yebra
This photo series is part of a study to assess the fire severity of the Orroral Valley fire (Namadgi National Park) in collaboration with ACT Parks and Conservation Service. The photos were taken from a helicopter.
Lost connection, Michelle Kocsis
Although this bridge was no longer used by vehicles, it was used to leave the property on foot during floods and had withstood the test of time only to fall victim to bushfire. The old bridge had a complex history and was the cause of many a conflict. The loss of the bridge was not only the loss of egress during flood and history but was the last connection to the previous owner who tragically passed in a house fire.