South Eastern NSW bushfire recovery stories
Community spirit is vital to the resilience and recovery of towns and villages impacted by natural disasters and to the emotional healing of individual community members.
Following the 2019/20 bushfires, COORDINARE invited local organisations in bushfire-affected communities to apply for funding for community projects.
These projects aimed to strengthen social connectedness and emotional wellbeing, as well as assist communities to recover and heal.
Since then, we have received over 170 applications from the first and second rounds of the Bushfire Recovery grants. The many grant-supported events and activities are as diverse as the communities represented across our vast region.
We had the joy of catching up with some of the successful applicants that have already bought their recovery project to their local community.
The Nerriga Progress & Sporting Association was one of the successful applicants, who on 27 March 2021 held the ‘Nerriga Thank You Day’. The event brought the community together, involving firefighters and the Emergency services who risked their lives during the 2019/2020 bushfires.
The event was a huge success with 450 people attending, allowing many to check in with their mates and community members they may not be able to see on a regular basis.
(Pictured: supporters sign at the Nerriga Thank You Day March 2021)
The highlight of the day was special guest speaker Shane Fitzsimmons, who was the Commissioner of NSW RFS and is now the Commissioner for Resilience NSW. Shane’s talk to the community was deeply felt by many at the event, with Shane spending a lot of time chatting to the community, Firefighters and the first responders involved in the bushfires.
The event allowed the community to thank the firefighters and first responders, create friendships and help the community along the road to recovery.
(Pictured: Shane Fitzsimmons Commissioner for NSW Resilience speaking at the 2021 Nerriga Thank You Day)
Another event supported by COORDINARE’s Bushfire Recovery grants was the ‘Mogo Festival’ which was organised by the Mogo Village Business Chamber and held on 17 April 2021.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this event was the first time the community had been together since the 2019/20 bushfires.
The event brought together over 300 people and focused on community and local musicians, with many local Aboriginal performers, both young and old, playing for the audience.
Throughout the event, the performers took the opportunity to talk about the trauma and depression that has been brought on by the bushfires.
The event was deeply welcomed by the Mogo community, which focussed on reaching people who are isolated, to provide some positivity within the community.
(Pictured: the local community at the Mogo Festival in April 2021)
‘A Community Under Fire’ is another project supported by COORDINARE’s Bushfire Recovery grants, which saw the creation of a compelling and emotional documentary in Braidwood and the surrounding villages during the peak of the 2019/20 bushfires.
The documentary was locally produced and features locals from the Braidwood community. The film highlights the importance of community and everyday people doing extraordinary things to help their community survive and recover.
The documentary has since been submitted to 90 film festivals across the world in 55 countries. At present, the documentary has been successful with 9 film festivals, and they are still waiting to hear back from over 70 film festivals.
The documentary is set to be released to the public later this year. You can watch the trailer for the documentary below!