Bushfires burn 7.7million hectares of land
Over the summer of 2019-2020, more than 90 bushfires occurred in Queensland, burning 7.7 million hectares of land. Fourteen Local Government Areas were directly impacted by the fires, including Bundaberg, Gladstone, Gold Coast, Gympie, Ipswich, Livingstone, Lockyer Valley, Noosa, Redland, Scenic Rim, Somerset, Southern Downs, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba (Queensland Reconstruction Authority, 2020).
Neighbourhood Centres work with their communities to prepare for, respond to and recover from bushfires
Neighbourhood Centres’ local knowledge and relationships mean they are often involved in working with their communities to prepare for bushfire events and play a key role in information sharing.
Because centres are already embedded in communities prior to the bushfire event, they are often the first to respond with Emergency Relief for Queenslanders who have lost everything. Centres’ have shown their resourceful approach also makes them adaptive – allowing them to assist quickly when supply chains are cut to external services. Whilst the preparation and emergency responses to bushfires are important, research has shown Neighbourhood Centres have the greatest capacity in helping communities recover from bushfires.
The Bushfire Resilience Strategy was developed to act as a tool to support Neighbourhood Centres to further their capacity to support their local communities through bushfires, and as a research document, to capture and advocate for Neighbourhood Centres’ work in bushfire resilience.
The Bushfire Resilience Strategy
The project used a collaborative process grounded in participatory action research and community development principles. Over twenty neighbourhood centres from Central Queensland and Sunshine Coast Regions were involved in developing the strategy. At the time of writing, the project is in phase 4 – the implementation of the strategy.
The project phases included:
Phase 1: Neighbourhood Centre Bushfire Discussions
Representatives of Neighbourhood and Community Centres between Central Queensland and the Sunshine Coast participated in the initial development of a Queensland Neighbourhood Centre Strategy for Bushfire Resilience in person and through phone conversations and combined online workshops.
Phase 2: Bushfire Resilience Survey
Surveys were undertaken with Neighbourhood Centres and Stakeholders. The purpose of this survey was to explore and highlight the key roles Neighbourhood and Community Centres play in bushfire resilience to demonstrate their unique functions and approaches in communities.
Phase 3: Strategy Publication and Launch
The Queensland Neighbourhood Centres Strategy for Bushfire Resilience was published in March 2021 and launched online with a presentation from collaborators and contributors.
Phase 4: Implementation of the Bushfire Resilience Strategy (Ongoing to 30 June 2022 )
NCQ has been successful in securing $95,021 for the implementation of the Qld Neighbourhood Centres Strategy for Bushfire Resilience.
This project will continue the collaborative work through the Strategy towards bushfire resilience with Centres between Central Queensland and the Sunshine Coast. Benefits and learnings will be shared further across the State.
Bushfire Resilience Enquiries & Partnerships
Contributors and Authors
For their generous contribution of time and insights, NCQ would like to thank the representatives from the following Centres:
- Baringa Community Centre
- Caloundra Community Centre
- Bundaberg and District Neighbourhood Centre
- Childers Neighbourhood Centre
- Gin Gin Neighbourhood Centre
- Glass House Mountains Neighbourhood Centre
- Granite Belt Neighbourhood Centre
- Gympie Community Place
- Hambledon House Community Centre (Cairns)
- Livingstone Shire Council Community Centre
- Maleny Neighbourhood Centre
- Mooloolah Community Centre
- Maroochy Neighbourhood Centre
- Moranbah and District Support Services
- Nambour Community Centre
- Northshore Community Centre
- Pomona Community House
- The Neighbourhood Hub (Mackay)
- Sarina Neighbourhood Centre
- Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre
- Winton Neighbourhood Centre
Mengting Lin, with the support of QFCA staff members Natasha Odgers, Chris Mundy, and Geoff Roberson.
The research for Queensland Neighbourhood Centres Strategy for Bushfire Resilience was jointly funded under the Commonwealth/State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements through the CQ Bushfires Category C Flexible Funding Grants Program.