National Award Winners and Finalists
National Local Government Award
National School Award
National Mental Health and Wellbeing Award
National Photography Award
National Community Award
Sponsored by Suncorp
About the awards
Learn more about the award categories and how to submit your project
Contact the RAA Program Manager for all media enquiries
Explore winning and highly commended projects from previous years
About the Resilient Australia Awards
The Resilient Australia Awards is a nation-wide program that celebrates, shares and promotes initiatives that build and foster community resilience to disasters and emergencies. 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.
Evidence-based fire safety education for children
Fire and Rescue NSW
New South Wales
Fire safety education (FSE) is implemented by fire services around the world to enhance children’s capacity to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from fire. In fact, prevention through education is the first line of defence against misuse of fire and fire related injuries and fatalities in children. Despite widespread implementation, there were no overarching evidence-based guidelines informing the development or evaluation of programs.
In light of this gap, and 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.
Happy Valley community bushfire risk management project
QFES - Happy Valley Rural Fire Brigade and Happy Valley Community Association
Triggered by the 2018 assessment that the community of Happy Valley was undefendable, the Happy Valley community bushfire risk management project is the culmination of a community driven planning and development process to ensure their community, with input from several Local and State Government agencies, was in the best possible position to defend themselves when threatened by bushfire. Hazard mitigation and reduction planning and delivery, supported by community engagement and education, were also critical components of the project.
The project built on community members knowledge, skills and networks, to deliver two key documents – Operational Incident Action Plan (IAP) (6 Dec 2020) and the Hazard Reduction and Fire Management Plan.
The success of the project was evident when, on 7 December 2020, the K’gari bushfire impacted the Happy Valley township reserve, with no loss of life or property due to the prior preparation and planning.
Spend With Us Marketplace
Spend With Us
New South Wales
During the height of the 2019/2020 Australian Bushfires, the Spend With Us marketplace was created to assist bushfire affected small businesses to continue to trade and get their products online for free, and with no technical knowledge required, whilst also providing a central place for consumers to search, find and support businesses in need.
Spend With Us opened up an entirely new channel for these businesses and is Australia's first and largest online marketplace dedicated to rural and regional small and micro businesses. Rural communities can diversify their income streams and be more resilient in difficult times.
Today, we have 1000+ registered Spend With Us sellers on our Marketplace website, 7000+ products to choose from, and 320,000+ members in our Buy From a Bush Business Facebook group community. We provide an easy to use platform for consumers to discover and buy unique products supporting rural and regional Australians nationwide.
After the flood: A strategy for long-term recovery
National Resilience and Recovery Agency
After the flood: A strategy for long-term recovery (the strategy) is an example of doing things differently. Strong collaboration across all levels of government, industry, business and communities impacted by the devastating 2019 Queensland monsoon trough has driven a ground-up approach to long-term recovery solutions and preparedness for future challenges. Locally led, locally understood and locally implemented is central to the work of the National Resilience and Recovery Agency, and that was the approach taken to development of the strategy. But the work hasn’t stopped there. The strategy hasn't been developed to sit on a shelf or left to communities to implement themselves. The formation of two implementation working groups are driving ongoing commitment to the strategy to ensure local voices remain central to how that occurs, and the Agency is with them every step of the way.
Australian National Flammability System
Australian National University
Australian Capital Territory
The Australian Flammability Monitoring System (AFMS) is the world’s first near-real-time web application that uses satellite data to monitor fuel moisture levels and bushfire risk at a continental scale. Developed at the Australian National University, the AFMS predicts vegetation and soil dryness across the Australian landscape, assisting fire and land managers with their operational decisions via a live-data interactive online map - whether it’s battling bushfires, or planning ahead for the summer season. The AFMS has already had an impact in managing disasters and risk in Australia, being applied during the 2019/2020 Black Summer bushfires.
BlazeAid is a volunteer-based organisation that works with rural communities after natural disasters. Helping farming families, volunteers assist to rebuild fences and structures that have been damaged or destroyed by fires, floods, cyclones and/or drought. Equally important, volunteers help to improve the mental health of people who are sometimes facing their third natural disaster. BlazeAid is often the first to respond and the last to leave, staying until the work is completed.
Since establishment by Kevin and Rhonda Butler, who were burnt out in Black Saturday 2009, the organisation has helped thousands of property owners across Australia. Volunteers stay in basecamps in disaster hit areas, where food, amenities and some accommodation is provided free of charge, in return for working to help communities get back on their feet. The result is an organisation of collaboration and camaraderie that lifts spirits and embodies the essence of mateship across the nation.
Canberra Relief Network
Australian Capital Territory
Following the declaration of the COVID-19 public health emergency in March 2020, the ACT experienced unprecedented demand for food relief and the provision of other essential items. To assist the community and the community sector at this uncertain time, the Community Services Directorate created the Canberra Relief Network, a centralised model that provides food and essentials to individuals and families who are unable to purchase these items.
Utilising a collaborative approach from Government, community organisations and businesses, since May 2020 the Canberra Relief Network has provided more than 2800 Canberra households with over 14,000 food hampers and over 7500 hampers of essential items like baby products and essential toiletries.
Community gift cards
Why Leave Town
New South Wales
To start with, think of how many times in the last 6 months you have purchased something either online, or from another community, when you could have instead, shopped locally? This is the question that drives Why Leave Town every day. Our Eftpos gift cards can only be spent in the local communities where they were purchased, ensuring that any money loaded onto them, for such things as gifts, staff incentives, or even relief & recovery purposes, circulates 100% back into local businesses.
Our Community Gift Card programs provide a platform for the distribution of relief funding and donations following drought, bushfires, floods and Covid, while ensuring the money stays local. Additionally, the accompanying shop local consultation provided by our experts further equips local businesses in maximising the benefit of these valuable programs.
Over $11.5 Million has been loaded onto our community gift cards... Who is the winner? Everyone!
Fire Ready 2021
Northern Territory Government
‘Fire Ready’ is an innovative new approach to addressing the community impact of Top End bushfires fuelled by gamba grass. Gamba is an African clumping grass, prolific across Darwin’s rural area. It cures late in the dry season, fuelling wildfires up to 8 times more intense than native grasslands, increasing the risk to life, property and the environment.
The newly established Gamba Fire Mitigation Unit (GFMU) has designed and delivered the Fire Ready program during 2021, to strengthen the community’s preparedness and resilience to the impacts of annual gamba wildfires. Fire Ready has two major components: ‘Fire Ready Week’ has a focus on helping rural residents and landholders prepare, act and survive the bushfire season, while ‘Fire Ready Assistance’ provides on-ground support for elderly or vulnerable rural residents to minimise their bushfire risk, by installing firebreaks and reducing gamba grass density around their houses and property.
FloodMapp is a start-up Brisbane technology company with a vision to create a safer, more resilient future.
Floods are a global problem, causing $US96 billion in damage and impacting 18 million lives annually. Despite powerful evidence that accurate, early warnings improve safety and security: there is no flood forecast model in the world fast enough to be considered real-time.
That is until FloodMapp developed a world-first, ground-breaking software for scalable, real-time flood modelling for disaster managers. Now, accurate, location specific situational awareness is possible, in real-time through digital maps that scale down to an address or up to a whole-of-nation view. Dynamic and targeted messaging to the community, focussed planning, and stepchange improvements in responder safety are the new reality.
Communities cannot be resilient if they do not understand their risk, trust their authorities, and have actionable advice. Putting FloodMapp in the hands of emergency managers makes those objectives real.
Fortem Australia is a charity that supports first responders and their families. We provide social connection and clinical services that improve and protect mental wellbeing. Our team is embedded in the communities most impacted by the Black Summer Bushfires of 2019/20 but come with a broad focus on addressing the known and established patterns of trauma that exist within the first responder community. We provide free, evidence-based, comprehensive, and integrated wellbeing support designed to complement and build upon workplace programs that exist within state and federal agencies.
We connect individuals and families to strengthen social bonds through regular wellbeing activities; and provide one on one psychological services for members of the first responder community needing deeper support. We activate awareness and education through online, accessible resources, as well as advocacy events, media and influencer networks. Our work is guided by a volunteer board of directors, advisory council and community ambassadors.
Monitoring the wellbeing of WA children and young people
Commissioner for Children and Young People
Children and young people represent almost one quarter of Western Australia’s population. The COVID-19 pandemic caused sudden and unforeseen changes children and young people’s lives worldwide. For many in
WA, this was their first experience of significant upheaval to everyday routines and being physically isolated from family members, friends and support networks.
WA’s Commissioner for Children and Young People contributed to the future preparedness of governments to effectively support the resilience of children and young people impacted by disasters by closely monitoring their self-reported wellbeing responses both before, during and after the events of 2020. This was achieved through wellbeing surveys in 2019 and 2021 as well as collation and analysis of responses from children and young people during 2020 COVID-19 restrictions.
The wellbeing views of WA children and young people provide valuable insights to guide government and non-government planning, policies and decision-making both now and in the future.
Resilient Communities Initiative
Disaster Relief Australia
The Disaster Relief Australia (DRA) Resilient Communities Initiative builds communities that are better equipped to bounce back after a natural disaster. By growing our Disaster Relief Teams (DRTs) across Australia and increasing our community response, volunteer management and training and resilience programs we aim to offer unrivalled value for money in the delivery of disaster resilience, mitigation and relief capability.
DRTs are integrated into local, state and national disaster management plans and participate in forums, preparation activities and emergency management exercises.
The launch of each DRT will allow DRA to develop collaborative relationships within the disaster relief community inspiring residents to act and better prepare so they are equipped to cope with the impact of disasters and make plans to adapt to such events in the future. DRA aims to build disaster resilient communities across Australia as the leader in disaster mitigation and community preparedness.
Resilient Rochester Project
Victoria State Emergency Service, North Central Catchment Management Authority and Campaspe Shire Council
The 2011 floods highlighted the strength of the Rochester community, as people came together and helped each other to respond and recover. It also highlighted the need to help communities better prepare for floods. The Resilient Rochester Project developed and implemented local solutions to help everyone in Rochester:
- better understand their personal flood risk
- know what it means for them when there is a flood watch or warning
- implement simple steps to reduce the impact and consequences of floods.
Tools were developed and distributed to business and households provided personalised information so that everyone knows what their risk is, and when they need to take action. The project celebrates the community of Rochester and the benefits of living somewhere so beautiful but acknowledges the risk of flood. It highlights that being aware of the risk and knowing what to do can greatly reduce the consequences – to individuals, families and businesses.
Following the Dunalley bushfires in 2013, the Tasmanian Bushfires Inquiry made extensive recommendations for emergency services in Tasmania. From these recommendations Tasmania Police’s Emergency Management Section was formed and Juvare’s WebEOC was selected as a recording system for emergency operations. Funding to assist the development of this project was sought and approved under the National Partnership Agreement (NPA) and the Natural Disaster Resilience Grant Program (NDRGP).
Tasmania now boasts a web-based emergency operations centre that includes over 90 emergency management providers across all levels of government and non-government organisations. These providers include emergency services, owners of critical infrastructure and information technology, local councils, schools, and charities such as Red Cross’s Register.Find.Reunite.
This web-based emergency operations centre allows all organisations to share the same information and decisions in real time, resulting in more effective communication between partners, contributing to the ongoing safety of people and communities during life-changing events.
Bushfire Recovery Program
Royal Far West
New South Wales
The Black Summer Bushfires of 2019/20 affected many people, but imagine being a child – separated from loved ones fighting the fires, seeing the destruction but not having the words to express the feelings, listening to adult conversations but not being included. We believe children should have their voices heard and be supported in the recovery process. This is what Royal Far West’s (RFW) Bushfire Recovery Program (BRP) is doing.
Following consultation with impacted communities and experts in disaster recovery, we designed a program supporting the wellbeing and resilience of children, reducing the likelihood of long-term adverse effects. The program, delivered by multidisciplinary health clinicians, has now been rolled out in over 30 communities, supporting 3000+ children through group programs, individual therapy and capacity building. Helping those around the child is just as important, with the program supporting 1700+ parents, educators & local professionals. Kids shall not be forgotten in recovery.
Bushfire community legal project (Kangaroo Island)
Community Legal Centres SA
Community Legal Centres South Australia's project sees a dedicated Legal Officer deliver community-led regular, free, accessible, and trauma-informed face-to-face legal help to remote areas of South Australia devastated by the 2019/2020 Black Summer, including Kangaroo Island (KI). The project is unique and innovative; it involves rethinking and recalibrating how the community legal sector delivers holistic legal outreach rurally.
The dynamic project is resourced to support community bushfire recovery. It is bolstering the community legal sector’s skills, exposure to, and involvement within the Preventing, Preparing, Responding and Recovering (PPRR) phases of disaster planning. It contributes to community resilience by providing trauma-informed legal advice assisting community members to identify, de-escalate and resolve legal issues arising from/exacerbated by disasters. The project has worked with the KI community to address general and disaster-specific information gaps through community legal education; empowering the community with the knowledge, confidence, and tools they require to take responsibility for their own resilience.
Disaster resilience in CALD communities
Australian Red Cross
Cultural diversity is one of Australia’s defining feature and most valuable asset. With a third of the country’s population born overseas and every fifth person speaking a language other than English at home, multiculturalism is a central aspect of Australian identity and an important contributor to its social, cultural and economic dynamism. Despite this contribution, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities face various challenges and barriers, which can increase vulnerability in times of disasters. On the other hand, CALD communities also possess a wealth of experiences and abilities with a strong potential to enrich disaster management knowledge and practices in Australia, but which are often overlooked.
To support CALD communities enhance disaster resilience while contributing to generate more culturally inclusive disaster management, Australian Red Cross implemented a two-year project focused on volunteer mobilisation, community engagement, capacity building, development of multilingual disaster preparedness resources, advocacy and research.
Journey of Hope
Save The Children Australia
Journey of Hope is an evidence-based program that helps children build resilience and develop new ways to cope with worry and anxiety in the aftermath of a disaster. It helps children and caregivers cope with collective trauma, identify triggers and stressors, develop their natural resilience and coping strategies, and strengthen their social support networks through group sessions. Trained local facilitators deliver the program through schools and early education centres, tailoring the program to the developmental needs of participants. Rather than focusing solely on the trauma, group sessions promote positive coping skills through discussion, interactive games, journaling, and art-based activities.
This program was delivered in regional Victoria and New South Wales in areas affected by the devastating 2019-20 bushfires, as well as sites in Metropolitan Melbourne to support children struggling with the impact of COVID-19. Between July 2020 and May 2021, Journey of Hope has reached 5,043 children in 80 schools.
Emergency Animal Support Evacuation WA
Recognising that better preparedness and support for animals will positively impact on the safety and wellbeing of their owners, Emergency Animal Support Evacuation WA (EASE WA) has been operating for 10 years and focuses on animals as a major consideration for owners during times of emergency, the organisation has grown to cover all of Western Australia.
EASE WA is a community-based initiative that facilitates support and information for disaster-impacted communities, to help and support each other during evacuations, including education, help with evacuations, safety and safe places for animals to be relocated during an emergency situation and support communities after emergencies through organising accommodation, care and feed during the recovery phase.
EASE WA encourages people to learn and help each other prior to an emergency, connect with services and offer assistance before, during and after an emergency.
Minds Do Matter
Minds Do Matter is an annual, statewide community art exhibition celebrating Mental Health Week in Tasmania.
Minds Do Matter explores the relationship between art and well-being by celebrating art’s power to be life-enhancing and life affirming. Currently in its 12th year, Minds Do Matter plays a valuable role in raising community awareness of the importance of mental health and well-being.
Minds Do Matter builds community mental health literacy by providing a creative platform which allows participants and audiences alike to contribute to vital conversations about mental health. This in turn contributes to the de-stigmatisation of mental illness by promoting the notion that mental health is about everyone. This is of particular importance when COVID19 has had a significant impact on community mental health at large.
In 2021 Minds Do Matter received a Community Recognition Award from City of Launceston in the events category for the 2020 exhibition.
Townsville Community Rebuild Project
Townsville Community Rebuild Project (TCRP) was established following the 2019 North Queensland monsoonal trough as an inter-agency collaborative initiative. The project aimed to ‘Make a house a home again’ and facilitate coordination of assistance to Townsville residents who were unable to repair their flood and monsoonal trough affected properties to a safe, habitable and pre-disaster condition to enable recovery and build their resilience for future disasters.
The TCRP recognised the context and complexity within the Townsville community in that many impacted were uninsured, vulnerable or ineligible for adequate government assistance to return their homes to pre-disaster standards. Furthermore, it recognised that with increased vulnerability factors affecting many residents, together with shortages in available housing options, many community members were faced with adverse recovery outcomes without collaborative, cohesive and coordinated assistance. The project operated under a ‘no wrong door’ policy ensuring vulnerabilities were addressed and community resilience enhanced through coordinated support.
Pimlico State High School
In 2020, Pimlico State High School, like the rest of the world was forced to adapt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This disaster highlighted that schools are more than just bricks and mortar. The school used learnings from the 2019 Townsville floods about the importance of wellbeing and resilience to foreground its response to the pandemic. We used the pivot towards online learning as an opportunity for innovation in teaching and learning and explored multiple opportunities to maintain student connection to the school community through student voice and continuing extra-curricular opportunities.
The school partnered with charities to distribute computers to students to ensure disadvantaged families had access to online learning. Wellbeing programs were revised, enhanced and rebadged (iCare) for online learning and wellbeing was at the forefront of our response. As the pandemic evolves, the school has maintained a focus on sustaining our innovative work “Beyond COVID-19.”
Central West Health and Wellbeing Day
Longreach State High School
Central West Health and Wellbeing Day aimed to give our community something to look forward to, through challenging times and to strengthen the bonds between Central West communities. This day presented students with a platform to learn, grow and discover themselves whilst also helping them experience different wellbeing exercises and work towards breaking the stigma associated with ‘mental health’. Our goal was to cultivate hope within our community that had been enduring drought for over a decade, recent floods and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
High school students from the surrounding towns were invited to this event. From these communities, over 220 students and teachers attended the event. The event was the catalyst that promoted uncommon conversations leading to powerful personal insights and change. The world has entered a new era as it battles to grapple with enormous challenges presented by an ever-changing world, and we choose to thrive.
St John's School
At St John’s School we believe well-being and resilience are key in setting students up for educational and life success in times of hardship and drought, sadly an ongoing reality in our region of Australia. Our initiative started in 2018 with our yearly Wellness Week project, a week-long event designed to effect change by educating and empowering our school community to be resilient.
This year our focus was mental health, starting with the theme “it’s okay to have a blue day” then shifting to resilience and building strategies to bounce back. Activities targeted mental health, physical health, connection, and kindness, as research finds these elements can improve mental health and resilience in times of adversity. To maintain momentum the
Resilience Project promoting gratitude, empathy, mindfulness, and emotional literacy, was introduced across grades 7 to 12 in 2020 and extended to include all students from prep to grade 12 in 2021.
Emergency Services Cadets program
Bridgetown High School
The Bridgetown High School Emergency Services Cadets program’s primary goal is to nurture and train the next generation of emergency services volunteers. The program works with students from when they enter high school as young year 7s, through to when they leave as mature 16-year-olds.
The strength of the program lies in the graduated nature of the activities that are built into the training. We take both cadets and their families on a journey of growth throughout the years they are part of the program. The program also draws strength from the involvement of a wide variety of emergency services volunteers, emergency services staff and local businesses. Through these links the cadets get to interact with many members of the community that they would not meet in their regular daily lives. During this journey we develop resilient young people and give then the skills to become our future community volunteers.
Council Ready - driving disaster resilience
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. All 68 SA councils participated, resulting in 46 policies, 39 plans, 51 operations manuals and 15 recovery plans being adopted. For each council, specific deliverables were identified based on gaps in their documentation and organisational capacity, and on the local risk profile and community context.
The program design was informed by extensive early engagement with councils and emergency sector stakeholders, which created the foundation and buy-in for successful implementation. A team of skilled project facilitators was critical to the success of Council Ready. This team mentored and ‘walked beside’ councils, supporting capacity building and cultural change to embed emergency management across councils.
Bushfire recovery rebuilding and resilience program
Bega Valley Shire Council
New South Wales
Independent research found the Bega Valley Shire to be the most disaster impacted LGA in 2020. With five Natural Declared Disasters including the Black Summer fires where 4 lives were lost, 500 homes, 1000 structures destroyed, 66% of the Shire burned, subsequent floods and Covid-19 all heavily impacting and creating broad reaching challenges for the region. The Bega Valley Shire Council met these immense challenges buoyed by prior experience and knowledge and took the lead in advocacy and regional recovery.
Partnering with the NSW Government to pilot a regional recovery plan, setting up the Bega Valley Local
Bushfire Recovery Committee and establishing the Recovery Resilience and Rebuilding program to deliver key bushfire recovery programs. Throughout the chaos and recovery of the disaster Council stayed true to the organisational value of people matter, and that recovery is a journey of walking with the community.
P-CEP in Mackay
Mackay Regional Council
'P-CEP in Mackay' introduced Person-Centred Emergency Preparedness to improve the safety and wellbeing in disasters of people with disability in the Mackay region. Led by Mackay Regional Council, the project employed a capacity development approach to engage people with disability and their carers, community, health, aged care, and disability service providers, together with emergency managers, to learn about and use the P-CEP toolkit. Participants learned to use P-CEP to enable people with disability to develop personal emergency plans tailored to their individual support needs.
P-CEP resources have been widely distributed throughout the
region and a comprehensive community engagement strategy is spreading the message of Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction. Council partnered with the University of Sydney to utilise an action research method to capture findings from the project. We have learned a person-centred approach can better inform emergency planning by service providers and emergency managers.
Rent relief and screwdriver initiatives
ACT Property Group
Australian Capital Territory
The ACT Government was committed to offering recovery support to the local ACT community in many ways during the COVID-19 pandemic. ACT Property Group (ACTPG) were instrumental in delivering two of the critical initiatives of the ACT economic stimulus package. One of these initiatives was to provide rent relief to tenants of ACT Government owned buildings who were affected by COVID-19, providing much needed financial assistance.
The other critical initiative was fast tracking infrastructure and maintenance projects across Canberra’s community facilities. The projects under the ‘screwdriver ready’ initiative included much needed upgrades and maintenance to improve facilities for use by vulnerable community members and organisations. The upgrades included roof repairs, disability and accessibility facilities upgrades, solar panels installations, landscaping and electrical upgrades. Not only did these projects refresh the community facilities they also provided aid in maintaining employment and activity in the local construction sector over the pandemic period.
Mobile companion animal shelter for emergency evacuation
Northern Tasmania Regional Emergency Management Committee
It was recognised that companion animals arriving at evacuation centres would not be adequately provided for. Rather than upgrading existing facilities, a 40' shipping container was fitted out for this specific purpose. The end result is an asset that is flexible in it's ability to be deployed quickly, and set up in support of an emergency evacuation centre located anywhere in the Municipality. It provides confidence to the community that their companion animals will be well catered for at the same evacuation facility that they will be attending, thus avoiding the very real risk of a persons reluctance to evacuate due to not being able to take their animals with them. The City of Launceston is very proud that it now has the capability to also support any other region in Tasmania with the deployment of this asset in their hour of need if ever required or requested.
Neighbour to neighbour
City of Fremantle
Fremantle was particularly vulnerable to the impacts of the pandemic, with a higher proportion of lone person households and population aged over 65, a lower median household weekly income and a higher proportion of household financial stress. The local economy was also significantly impacted due to the prevalence of tourism, hospitality and creative industries along with retail, recreation and tertiary education.
During March 2020 lockdown, the City jumped into action to strengthen community and encourage neighbours to look out for each other. Neighbour to Neighbour (N2N) was launched as a way to immediately connect our community. Over the past 12 months N2N adapted to changing community needs. What began as a match-making database connecting local residents wanting to help, with those in isolation or experiencing hardships during the pandemic, resulted in a variety of in initiatives to help the growing number of people facing financial, employment and social hardships.
Wujal Wujal Elders and vulnerable persons initiative
Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council
The Wujal Wujal Elders and vulnerable persons initiative is to promote and assist with disaster preparedness for the elderly and vulnerable people of the Wujal community. Council do this through creating media in the local Kuku Yalanji language to make it easier for local people to interpret and understand. HACC staff regularly prepare hygine, food and disaster kits for clients and vulnerable residents. These kits include soap, toothbrush and paste, tissues, long-life milk, ceral, rice, tinned food, tea, sugar, water candels, radios etc. When bad weather is forecast the community is frequently cut-off, in these instances Council ensures that all dialysis clients and transported to Cooktown with all their medication and clothing. Staff, at times, stay with the clients on their own time to ensure that they have everything they require.
Recovery Capitals (ReCap)
University of Melbourne, Massey University, Australian Red Cross and Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC
The Recovery Capitals (ReCap) project aimed to support mental health and wellbeing after disasters by providing evidence based resources for those engaged in recovery. Research from past disasters can guide good decision-making and recovery actions, but findings are often not readily accessible to people supporting recovery. The ReCap project produced accessible, engaging and evidence-based resources that offer guidance on how to apply key recovery principles in practice.
ReCap supported inclusive, holistic, strengths-based approaches to resilience and recovery. It took a broad view of the influences on mental health and wellbeing after disasters, emphasising the interconnectedness between natural, social, financial, cultural, political, built and human ‘capital’. It encourages cooperation between the many people, organisations and sectors with a role to play in supporting mental health and wellbeing in disaster contexts. The ReCap resources are being used to build capacity before and after disasters across Australia, making a significant contribution to disaster resilience.
Be You bushfire response program
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 affected by the Black Summer bushfires. The program recognises 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. Led by Beyond Blue with delivery partners Early Childhood Australia, headspace and Emerging Minds the program assisted over 430 learning communities.
Taking a place-based approach, 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. In addition to the support provided to learning communities, the program produced 3 national webinars, developed a bushfire response resource pack and promoted cross sector collaboration and communication, through stakeholder consultations across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
Wellbeing framework and resource guide for mental health in young adult fire and emergency service volunteers
University of Adelaide
Across Australia, thousands of young adults volunteer their time as firefighters and emergency service personnel to help their communities during times of disaster and need. Inherent in this role, however, is repeated exposure to potentially traumatic events which are known to increase rates of mental disorder.
This comprehensive study is the first in Australia to focus on addressing and preventing the development of mental health symptoms and disorder among young adult fire and emergency service volunteers aged 16-25. The data-driven and practical resources developed from this research have been uniquely co-designed with both the fire and emergency agencies and young volunteers themselves, ensuring that they are understandable and relevant to those who will be using them.
Resources include a wellbeing framework and implementation guide for agencies and a practical guide for young volunteers which aim to provide a lasting positive impact on young volunteer health and wellbeing and workforce sustainability.
Ablaze. The long, hot Summer of 2019-20: Canberra volunteer rural firefighters reflect on the 'Black Summer' bushfires
ACT Volunteer Brigades Association
Australian Capital Territory
This is a 400-page photo-journal book project. It reflects the experiences of Canberra's volunteer bushfire fighters during Black Summer, both in the ACT and interstate throughout NSW and Queensland. The book is intended to thank, recognise, reward, and improve the morale of our volunteer firefighters, and also to create a permanent record for the ACT community which showcases the work of our volunteers and Black Summer. We intend to provide key stakeholders, including each volunteer firefighter with a complimentary copy of the book and will deposit a copy with the National Library.
Building a member welfare system, focussing on mental health relating to critical incidents
Surf Life Saving NSW
New South Wales
As first responders, Surf Life Savers can be involved in incidents such as provision of emergency care, search and rescue, CPR and body recovery, and any of these could involve the loss of life. Our welfare system was adopted as a best practice approach to support our members post-incident. Surf Life Saving NSW’s (SLSNSW) 3-year Strategic Plan has for the 2nd time has prioritised building the welfare system. We are committed to building trauma awareness and lessening the impact of critical incident stress on members and their families by providing education, care and support. This will make us more effective in protecting the community.
We personally connect with our members post-incident to confirm support provided and resources available. We carry out a minimum of 3 well checks within the month to review coping and recovery and ensure strong reactions post event can be effectively assessed and managed proactively.
Building Personal Resilience - educational modules for anaesthesia doctors
ANZCA WA Anaesthesia Resilience Working Group
The ‘Building Personal Resilience’ modules, designed for anaesthesia doctors in conjunction with The Keil Centre, are educational programs developed to develop the personal resilience of doctors, to improve their performance, effectiveness and ability to adapt and grow in the face of challenges. These modules are facilitated by doctors, for doctors in the specialty of anaesthesia, on a volunteer basis. The COVID-19 pandemic has been the challenge of a life-time for many people, but especially so for frontline healthcare workers, such as anaesthetists. Our modules provide our participants with evidence based practical skills and strategies, that will help them to remain effective and healthy, so that they can continue to deliver high-quality care to their patients.
First Responder Wellbeing Summit
Wellbeing Australia’s First Responder Wellbeing Summit was a series of free, online and on-demand discussions designed to encourage proactive and solution-focussed approaches to wellbeing and building resilience in First Responders. The objective was to strengthen the community’s ability to identify emergency and cumulative mental health fatigue at all levels, and share ways to proactively manage, seek support and provide assistance.
The summit was a collaboration between not-for-profit, Resilience teams, multiple agencies and professionals with academic and/or lived experience in first responder recovery from trauma. Presenters from SES, Fire, Ambulance, Federal and State police and other emergency services across Australia shared their lived experience in a vulnerable and collaborative way which dissolved rank and agency, and fostered self-awareness, skills-building and a network of support across agencies and between professionals, volunteers and their loved ones. Over 140 formal and informal first responder agencies and communities from all states and territories participated.
Quilts for Wooroloo Fire Recovery
Perth Hills Events
Welcome to the Quilts for Wooroloo Fire Recovery. Born from fire that destroyed so much, created from love to wrap my community back up. Fire that destroyed 86 homes and displaced hundreds of people, some still living in tents this long after the fire grounds are now cold. An initiative put together to bring many together to wrap them in handmade quilts of love to give them back a little of what has been lost, but mostly to give them back love and connection, to help them heal.
Rural mental health program
NSW SES Volunteers Association
New South Wales
Volunteers of the NSW SES have, over the past 18 months, continued responding to emergencies within their communities including road-crash rescue, vertical rescues, community (medical) first response along with floods and storms. The recent drought created significant stressors to this volunteer capability especially within rural areas. The SES VA created the Drought Support Program which provided support, welfare, engagement, fodder, pellets, welfare packs and (working) dog food for volunteers in rural areas. This support not only provided a 'check-in' avenue, it allowed volunteers to remain available for rescue callouts during this time.
The SES VA saw mental health and wellbeing was also a risk and the SES VA had members trained and accredited as Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Instructors. This enabled accredited MHFA training to be undertaken within a greater number of volunteer SES units. Having the training undertaken by fellow SES volunteers also opened discussion in this area.
Still standing - we and the trees
New South Wales
Our home is defined by colour... here in the beautiful Blue Mountains. Over the summer of 2019-2020, fire decided to call it home too for a bit, and after a long, hard battle, we found ourselves and our home, somewhat 'Black and Blue'. Throughout the Black Summer, Blaxland Bushfire Brigade joined the great golden army that stood up across Australia to protect our communities. By the end, we were a tad battle-weary, but we were still standing.
This photo was taken on patrol in early February 2020, along 'The Oaks' Fire Trail, at a point where the fire had been particularly fierce. Everything was stripped of life and colour. When Tom came into view... he was almost glowing like a golden yellow beacon of hope(!) in defiant contrast to the black and grey expanse of desolation.
From a distance, Tom was dwarfed by the stand of giant but skeletal leftovers of trees, which were cooked... well done... and eaten by the fire for breakfast. But he, as with Aussie firefighters everywhere, can stand tall, as fighting this fiery foe was a giant effort... done well.
Resilience is an energy. Alongside hope, It is deep inside us, safe from life's flames that burn the exterior. It generates new "beginnings" like burnt trees after fire. Resilience is finding that internal energy... the physical and mental strength to stay on your feet... stand tall. And when the comfort and "colour" of normality feels like it has burnt to black in the wake of destructive forces, resilience is finding a bright flash of something "golden" within yourself, others, or your environment, to be a powerful contrast to the darkness that can
come with challenging times. After that Black Summer, to be still standing - we and (some!) trees - I think is testament to Australian resilience.
The resilience of Soxy
This is a photo of a man called Soxy. Soxy has a real name, but many people who live in this area would not know what it is. I doubt he would even answer to it. Soxy was born into a small, salt mining and farming town, where the town's jetty was really busy, exporting salt and grain to the world. This town is on the Yorke Peninsula, South Australia. Soxy is the larrikin, salt of the earth type “character", that is legendary in so many
At age fourteen Soxy's father died. Soxy Left school immediately and started work on that busy jetty, lugging bags of salt. It was back breaking, hard physical work, but it put food on the table. For Soxy the future involved working as a shearer, running a piggery, marriage, two children and so much more. Over time he became the “go to" person for anyone wanting to know anything about the town, surrounding areas or how to get something done. He knows everyone and everyone knows Soxy.
The black summer bushfires came to Soxy's community in 2019, destroying houses, burning crops, killing stock and threatening whole towns. The first shearing shed Soxy worked in was reduced to ash whilst Soxy was fighting the fire. Soxy being a resilient man helped set up the local Blazeaid, a founding member of the Local Recovery Committee and gave physical and verbal support to the affected farmers and residents. He was the fixer. So many would say he was the difference between recovery and despair. He received the Local award this year for active citizenship and has previously been recognised as Citizen of the year. This is the face of a man in familiar surroundings, the face of a blackened but resilient community.
Just another Monday night
In a council car park, on Monday night, Vaughan (20 years of service), shows Victor (6 years of service) how to attach to a rooftop safety line. Behind them, Isabelle (3 years of service) does a safety check on her teammates’ harness.
The resilience of the unit depends on a diversity of skills and experience, on new members joining, and more experienced members staying on and sharing their skills. Safe Working at Heights is just one of the nationally accredited courses members of the unit are qualified to deliver and assess- an example of the self-sufficiency of the unit.
As individuals, we build our resilience by taking steps consistently that challenge us just enough so that when disaster strikes, we have a bank of skills ready to put into practice. We make our community more resilient by helping those that don’t have the means to help themselves in that moment- by creating a bridge between an emergency event and when their own coping systems can kick into gear–a small but critical bridge that could mean the difference between a water mark on the plaster and a collapsed ceiling.
It’s all made possible by these volunteer emergency responders, standing in the rain in a council car park on just another cold, wet, Monday training night. In developing their individual resilience and demonstrating the resilience of the unit, they contribute to the resilience of the community they serve, and the service they represent.
Awestruck - Preparing for the long battle ahead
Australian Capital Territory
Crew members were awestruck by the size and power of the Orroral Valley Fire as it roared up the mountainside on the first night of the fire. As experienced firefighters, they knew the battle to contain this fire had only just begun. They knew they had to plan and prepare themselves, mentally, physically, and emotionally, for the many long haul firefighting days and nights which lay ahead. Persistence, together with that deep down desire to lend a hand to protect people, property and the environment, spurred them on.
The crews kept returning to the devastating fireground many more times until the fire was eventually put out by rain a few weeks later.
The common purpose, mutual respect, love and support shown towards one another both during and after the fires has really helped develop resilience not only at the individual level, family level and brigade level but also at the broader community level. Sticking together and being resilient really helps us to bounce back from whatever adversities or challenges are inevitably thrown our way.
This photo reminds me that i can help overcome problems, stay positive, remain focussed and continue to motivate the other fantastic team members of our and other fire brigades to keep striving towards the end goal. This photo shows that team work, training and determination helped to stop the fire reaching the nearby housing estates. Working together as one to get the job done as quickly and safely as possible. Being a part of an amazing team means the world to me
The heat is on
No matter when, where or how you will always find a dedicated volunteer firefighter to put themselves on the front line to protect our great country. To me that show the resilience of our fellow Australians.