Inspiring projects building the resilience of Queensland communities to natural disasters were celebrated at the 2021 Get Ready Queensland Resilient Australia Awards held in Brisbane last night.
Ten projects were awarded for their incredible work to increase the resilience of all Queenslanders. The complete list of winners is below:
FloodMapp Brisbane for FloodMapp
A start-up Brisbane technology company, FloodMapp has 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 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 world-first, ground-breaking software for scalable, real-time flood modelling for disaster managers.
Community Award (joint winners)
Townsville Community Rebuild Project
This project was established following the 2019 North Queensland monsoon as a charitable, inter-agency initiative to assist residents who were unable to repair their flood affected properties. The project recognised many of the impacted were uninsured, vulnerable or ineligible for adequate government assistance. The project delivered services to over 47 households. It also facilitated emotional, social and psychological support to disaster-affected residents.
Australian Red Cross for Disaster Resilience in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities
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. 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. To support CALD communities enhance disaster resilience, 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.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, Happy Valley Rural Fire Brigade and Happy Valley Community Association for Happy Valley Community Bushfire Risk Management Project on K’gari (Fraser Island).
A 2018 bushfire assessment rated Happy Valley as ‘not defendable’, prompting the community to work with local and state government agencies to ensure they were in the best position to defend themselves if threatened by bushfire. In December 2020, when the K’gari bushfire impacted the Happy Valley township reserve, there was no loss of life or property due to the preparation and planning of the community and their partners.
Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council for Wujal Wujal Elders and Vulnerable Person's Initiative
This project ensures vulnerable and elderly community members are disaster-ready by approaching preparedness in a way that is easily understandable and accessible to Traditional Owners. When bad weather is forecast council staff assist dialysis patients to relocate to Cooktown – often after hours, with staff sometimes staying with clients in temporary accommodation to oversee their well-being. In preparation for storm season council created disaster kits to ensure client well-being in the event of an emergency. The kits ensure elderly/vulnerable community members can sustain themselves for at least three days.
Mackay Regional Council for Person-Centred Emergency Preparedness in Mackay
Research demonstrates people with a disability aretwo to four times more likely to die or be injured in a disaster. This project introduced Person-Centred Emergency Preparedness (P-CEP) initiatives across the Mackay region to improve the safety and wellbeing of people with disability during disasters. Mackay is the first community to widely distribute the P-CEP workbook and instigate a comprehensive program of community engagement and capacity development.
School Award (three winners)
St John's Roma for St John's School Resilience Project
St John's is a prep to year 12 school with 761 students, 109 staff, and close connections to its community of 6,848 people. Mental health is something that sits close to many people's hearts especially with the devastating impact of the drought in our area of southwest Queensland. All students and teachers at the school are involved in both the Wellness Week project and the ongoing Resilience project. The project has reduced stigma and normalised mental health, not only with students, but also with staff, parents, and our broader community.
Longreach State High School for Central West Health and Wellbeing Day
Longreach State High's Central West Health and Wellbeing Day aimed to cultivate hope within a community that has endured drought for over a decade, recent floods and now the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. High school students from the surrounding towns were invited and more than 220 students and teachers attended. The sessions worked toward building the capability of our Central West students to support their physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. The processes and data derived from the event has allowed the school to develop systems of early intervention, which have been implemented in 2021.
In 2020, Pimlico State High School, like the rest of the world was forced to adapt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The school used learnings from the 2019 Townsville floods about the importance of wellbeing and resilience to frame its response. 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 re-badged (iCare) for online learning and wellbeing was at the forefront of our response. Students were electronically surveyed about their wellbeing on a weekly basis (Friday Feedback) and results from these surveys were used to tailor the iCare program.
Ben Brackin for The Heat is On
The following projects were recognised as highly commended at the 2021 Get Ready Queensland Resilient Australia Awards:
Binna Burra Lodge
On 8 September 2019, at the beginning of the six months that became known as Australia's 'Black Summer', the historic Binna Burra Lodge and cabins were destroyed by bushfire. They took with them the jobs of some 60 staff, as well as 4,000 forward bookings including 15 weddings. It was one year before visitors could be welcomed back. The recovery of Binna Burra Lodge wasn't possible without the support of PALs (Partnerships, Alliances, Linkages) near and far who felt a connection to the place, its history, and its landscape. The Binna Burra response and rebuild has been recognised for: not letting business get in the way of an early evacuation, having multi-skilled, cross-trained staff to deal with complex and variable situations, having a go-kit that is easily accessible and contains information required to keep business trading, and utilising portable technology infrastructure to operate online.
Disaster Pharmacy Solutions for Pharmacists and Emergency Management
While pharmacists have routinely stepped up to assist their communities during vulnerable times, they are often lacking specialised disaster preparedness and emergency management training opportunities. In 2019, Disaster Pharmacy Solutions was invited to lead a workshop on disaster preparedness and emergency management at the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) Medicine Management conference. This initiative providing tailored disaster and emergency training to frontline pharmacists was the first of its kind in Australia.
Central Queensland Regional Arts Services Network for the Eungella and Finch Hatton Creative Recovery Project
In December 2018 an unprecedented heatwave led to catastrophic fires in an area no one thought possible - the rainforest. More than 63,000 hectares of the Eungella National Park, home to one of the remaining patches of Gondwanaland subtropical rainforest, was lost. To support locals through their grief, two community-led Creative Recovery Projects were completed in Finch Hatton and Eungella. The projects engaged local coordinators, professional artists and residents of all ages and abilities, to crate murals, publications, a documentary and three community blacksmith forges. It provided residents with the opportunity to share stories of loss, and celebrate the strength of the community.
Burnett Catchment Care Association for Building Resilience in the Agricultural North Burnett
In the past decade, the North Burnett region has been impacted by seven severe weather/flooding events, three drought declarations (currently ongoing) and several bushfires. Consequently, the region is considered vulnerable to the cumulative effects of these and future events. Considerable vulnerability lies within the agriculture sector, the backbone of the region's economy and communities. This project supported North Burnett agribusinesses to strengthen their resilience to natural disasters. Through the guidance of a skilled Community Resilience Officer, and consultants, agricultural business owners were able to examine their operations and determine ways to mitigate the impact of natural disasters.
Queensland Health for the Dear Mind campaign
The state’s first positive mental wellbeing campaign, ‘Dear Mind’, launched in January 2020. It encouraged Queenslanders to practise protective behaviours, and build long-term resilience and coping mechanisms, to buffer against mental illness. When COVID-19 emerged, Queenslanders’ mental wellbeing was at higher risk than ever before, so Queensland Health revamped the campaign to address these new challenges. Research shows Queenslanders who have seen the campaign report higher levels of mental wellbeing and happiness than those who haven’t.
Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA) and CSIRO for Bushfire Resilient Building Guidance for Queensland Homes
To help combat the impact of bushfires in our state, the Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA) partnered with CSIRO to develop guidelines that improve the bushfire resilience of new and existing homes. The Bushfire Resilient Building Guidance for Queensland Homes provides information on best-practice building and landscaping measures. Investing in resilience measures at home can significantly reduce the effort, cost and time to recover from bushfires. It also reduces the social and emotional impacts.
Townsville City Council for the Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Disaster Resources Program
Following the North Queensland monsoon event of 2019, a Townsville recovery task group identified the need for multi-lingual disaster resources. In collaboration with the Queensland Centre for Perinatal and Infant Mental Health's Birdie's Tree team and the Townsville Multicultural Support Group (TMSG), Townsville City Council created community champions and resources in Somali, Swahili, Sango, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, Karen, and French, which are now available not just to Townsville but also the world.
Central Highlands Regional Council for Kan's Lost Joey
Central Highlands Regional Council partnered with a technology company, games developer and children’s author to develop an online interactive game, Kan’s Lost Joey, to share regional safety messages with 8 – 13-year-olds. The game is a fun way for middle school students to explore choices and options when confronted with decisions during times of disaster. The game will provide a springboard into rural and remote households with children often prompting parents to do more in the disaster preparedness space.
Mary-Ann Shapcott for Overcoming life struggles. This is an image of three-time Paralympic Gold medallist Brendan Hall.