2018 Resilient Australia Award winners announced

3 September 2018

Communities, schools and organisations working to strengthen resilience were celebrated today as the winners of the Resilient Australia Awards were announced. 

The awards is a national program to recognise and promote initiatives which strengthen community disaster resilience across the nation. Now in its 19th year, the awards promote local projects that help make communities safer and better prepared for natural disasters, such as bushfires or floods. 

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the awards were a great way to celebrate and showcase community led work that was focused on building resilience.

“Building resilience is a partnership between communities, state and local government, agencies and business. It underpins everything we do in emergency management and these projects show that communities, school and organisations are also focused on it,” he said. 

“It’s so important to be starting this at the grass roots level and is great to see projects involving schools recognised. The more resilient our communities, the better equipped they will be to minimise the impacts and consequences of all emergencies.

 “Among the entries for this years’ awards were a range of projects that were a great representation of work happening on the ground. As we celebrate the winners, all applicants should be congratulated on the important work they are leading,” Mr Crisp said. 

The categories in the 2018 Victorian awards included community, government, schools and photography. 

Victoria received applications across the categories and from a broad range of community groups, businesses, agencies and organisations.

Community award

Winner:

Southern Grampians Glenelg Primary Care Partnership for their project Balmoral Fire Connect

Balmoral Fire Connect is a case study of the social networks and the diffusion of bushfire preparedness information in a small rural community in Victoria. Balmoral is a small rural community situated 350 kilometres west of Melbourne with a population of 300 located in a high fire risk area with significant exposure to bushfire risk emanating from nearby national parks.

The project, led by Southern Grampians Glenelg Primary Care Partnership (SGGPCP) in collaboration with Balmoral Bush Nursing Centre (BBNC) and RMIT University funded through CFA sought to understand the flow of bushfire preparedness information from a rural community sector organisation (BBNC) to members of the community by focusing on both staff and community groups that use the centre.

Government award

Winner:

Ambulance Victoria for their GoodSAM Community Responder Project

Ambulance Victoria (AV) has partnered with UK firm GoodSAM to include community responders (or Smartphone Activated Medics) in the response model through the use of smartphone app technology. Community responders include off-duty health professionals and trained first aiders from AV’s partners including CFA, Life Saving Victoria, St John Ambulance Australia (Vic) and Chevra Hatzolah.

Using the smartphone app, AV alerts the three nearest registered responders to a cardiac arrest following a Triple Zero (000) call, providing them with the location of the patient as well as the nearest available defibrillators. The closest available ambulance is simultaneously dispatched and, in some parts of Victoria, the fire brigade.

Piloted in Victoria in January 2018, this innovative technology has helped save lives in other parts of the world including the UK where it started. So far, the efforts of two of the 1,500 Victorian registered GoodSAM responders (off duty Paramedics and AHPRA registered health professionals) have directly contributed to saving two lives here. Since the launch of the pilot, there have been 2,600 Triple 000 calls that were classified as suitable for a GoodSAM response – an average of 18 per day.

Highly commended:

Campaspe Shire Council for their project Emergency Planning for People with Disabilities

Campaspe Shire Council developed a series of social stories to assist people with disabilities (specifically autism) to understand what to do in an emergency situation. Council consulted with the Echuca Specialist School, Department of Education and Training, and CFA. The notion of two social stories was then developed to assist in planning for people with disabilities. Given the time of year was fire season, the first of the social booklet series: ‘Being Prepared for Bushfire’ and ‘Being Prepared for Grassfire’ were developed.

Once printed, these booklets were distributed to the specialist school and all schools in the municipality to use in classes to start the discussion about emergencies. They were also given to other disability service providers including VIVID(formally Murray Human Services) and Community Living and Respite Services in Echuca.

CFA and VICSES for their Disaster Resilience Project 

The ‘Disaster Resilience Project’ (DRP) is a teacher-delivered Disaster Resilience Education (DRE) program for Victorian secondary school students in Years 7 -9. The DRP is comprised of six interactive web-based lessons designed to increase student's knowledge and awareness of their local disaster risks and build their capacity for initiating and participating in practical action for disaster risk reduction and resilience. To support scaled implementation in schools, the DRP also includes a professional development package aimed at building teacher capacity and capability for program delivery.

The design of the DRP has been informed by current theory and research on hazards and disasters, disaster risk and resilience, and DRE. The design has also been informed by in-depth consultation and collaboration with teachers and students from schools located in hazard prone areas in Victoria. By involving teachers and students as genuine participants in the design process, the DRP embodies good practice principals in education and reflects the needs, interests and capacities of young people. With a focus on bushfire, flood and severe storm, the DRP also addresses the key disaster risks faced by Victorian communities, both now and into the future.

DHHS for their project Fire Safety Awareness video

DHHS and MFB worked in partnership to develop a video about the fire safety systems in public housing high-rise towers, how they would respond in a fire in an individual unit or the building and what action tenants needed to take when they are activated. To support sustainable delivery and maximise ongoing knowledge, the department installed the necessary infrastructure to play the video in the entrance foyers of its 44 high-rise towers to inform and empower tenants about fire safety and their role. Making this information available to tenants each time they enter and leave the building increases the reach of the messages and provides regular reinforcement about the importance of fire safety.

Schools award

Winner:

Dixons Creek Primary School for their Firestick project

In 2016, two parents of the school attended the National Indigenous fire workshop in Cape York, QLD. They had been working with Wurundjeri elders and decided to find out more about indigenous burning. This seeded a project of engaging with the school in order to help the local community deal with fire again. The challenge identified that if the agencies were putting fire back into the landscape that the community would need preparation because of the amount of loss. What better way to engage the local community than through a program run at the local school?

Dixons Creek does not have shops or a township as such, so the school is a place where locals meet everyday whilst dropping their children to school. The school students, their parents, siblings, teachers and local Wurundjeri people and an Indigenous fire specialist from Queensland were involved in the project.

The school community were educated on indigenous land management methods, good and bad fire impacts, and how we can heal community and land through the use of traditional indigenous burning methods. Once our community was aware, the children were able to teach other children and spread the knowledge far and wide.

During the project, students in grades 3-6 had the opportunity to go out with local Aboriginal elders to learn about the impacts of fire on flora and fauna. Fire has been used to manage the landscape for thousands of years and students interpreted what they learnt into words and pictures.

Highly commended:

Arthurs Creek Strathewen CFA for their project Strathewen Arthurs Creek Bushfire Education Partnership – Love Where You Live.

During 2017, the partnership between Strathewen Primary School and Arthurs Creek-Strathewen CFA provided a year of fire education for local students and culminated with the creation of a picture story book titled ` Life in the Bush, Gem Gem's next adventure'. The program is based at the Strathewen Primary School and involves members of the local fire brigade, the grade 5/6 students from Strathewen Primary school and their teacher/Principal.

Building on the 2016 year of fire education, and production of an animated movie addressing the Fire Danger Rating system and its meaning, the picture story book deals with the concept of new residents moving to Strathewen and the need for community education in relation to fire season preparation and staying safe during peak fire danger times.
The picture story book looks at assisting new residents to our area (since 2009 there have been many) in preparing themselves, their properties and their homes for the yearly fire season. The book focuses on the best courses of action for a family on days of high fire risk.

Photography award

Winner:

Stacey Gladman from WD Newspapers for ‘Elvis is in the House’, a photo capturing two days after the fires started in South West Victoria of an aircrane dropping water over the fires.