As part of ongoing community building efforts, SouthCoast Health and Sustainability Alliance (SHASA) sponsored a community workshop at the Red Door Hall in Moruya. The aim being to support participants to better understand, learn and adapt to the bushfire catastrophe. Kathryn Maxwell of SHASA told The Beagle "Around 45 residents from the Eurobodalla and beyond attended and engaged in a facilitated conversation to share stories, experiences and ideas. Many powerful, sometimes painful and heartfelt stories of hardship, resilience and challenge were told."
"Specific themes that emerged included the ways that communities worked selflessly together to get through the firestorms and its ongoing aftermath.
"The tireless dedication and skill of the RFS was universally acknowledged.
Ms Maxwell said "Many thought there was a lack of awareness, planning and preparation across the Shire of the impending fire risk. The fact that expert advice was not appropriately heeded and planned for by Local, State and Federal Governments was seen as a failure of leadership at all levels. Many also felt that the Eurobodalla Council and in particular the Councillors did not acknowledge and plan for the disaster despite advice to do so. Many participants contrasted this with surrounding Shires such as Bega where many thought the leadership, and in particular the communication and planning was well executed.
"It was noted though, that many Council employees did rise to the occasion and made strong contributions." the SHASA spokesperson said.
"The need for the Eurobodalla Shire, NSW State, and Federal Governments to declare a Climate Emergency and act decisively on it was universally supported.
"Another key outcome was the need for the Council to strategically plan for emergency events such as fires, floods and other potential disasters and to inform, and help prepare the community to be informed and ready to respond. Building our resilience and adaption ready for the ongoing impacts of climate change and the chaos it will bring should be a Council priority.
"A strong theme also emerged around communities being at the centre of their reconstruction. This means partnering with, rather than being controlled by outside agencies.
"For many participants the workshop provided a structured way to come together and share stories, debrief experiences and create a sense of shared hope and optimism for the future. It was noted that many in the community are not yet able to do this. A key element of healing will be for this to happen."
A smaller working group has formed from the workshop and are planning to meet and work on further actions.
The workshop was facilitated by Steve Colman and Mark Spain from the consultancy business Global Learning.