2019 Resilient Australia Awards - NSW Winning Entries

Community Category

It was decided there would be joint winners due to the exceptional submissions.

Joint Winner: Goobang Community Resilience Network

Local Leaders Project

The Local Leaders Project is building resilience in regional communities, through the development of networks, knowledge and skills of local people with the aim to better recover from and prepare for disasters. The success of this project is centred on that it is led, owned and driven by local community members. In the Little River catchment area the communities formed the Goobang Community Resilience Network (GCRN). The GCRN to date has developed a plan to build community resilience, undertaken vulnerability mapping, created a community services directory and developed a ‘Go Box’ with documents and equipment that supports quicker recovery. This project successfully recruited the involvement of Local Land Services, Department of Primary Industry, NSW Rural Fire Service and the Local Emergency Management Officer. The project was made possible through funding by the Community Resilience Innovation Program.

Joint Winner: Gateway Family Services

Walk With Project

This project is being celebrated for supporting community service organisations providing post disaster support to vulnerable people. Gateway Family Services developed and piloted an online learning resource to help community service organisations support individuals, families and communities during recovery from disasters. The resource provides a relevant, practical and user friendly training and support program for community organisations in disaster planning and can be accessed for free at www.walkwith.org.au

Highly Commended: The Tathra Firebirds

Creative Collaboration after Community Trauma

This creative collective was inspired by cofounders and Tathra locals, Amanda Galvin Myers and Kate Marshman. In the wake of the bush fire of 2018, the collective facilitated community self-help activities through art therapy to aid recovery during a time of fear, upheaval and devastation. They held regular workshop sessions, ran an exhibition and connected with community recovery meetings and other organised recovery activities. The collective also formed partnerships with local businesses, social welfare groups, community organisations and local media. This project has been successful in providing both a safe space for trauma recovery and with connecting community members to mutual support structures, particularly for women who felt their needs were not being met by traditional disaster response mechanisms.

Business Category

Winner: Tathra & Region Chamber of Commerce

Tathra-Sapphire Coast Tourism Resilience Project

The Tathra & Region Chamber of Commerce led a valuable tourism focussed project which captures learnings from the impacts of the 2018 bushfire on Tathra and surrounds. Key partners include Bega Valley Shire Council and Sapphire Coast Destination Marketing. Benefits of the project include connecting businesses and emergency services through local forums, community engagement and development of tourism emergency resources. This has also led to the development of a Sapphire Coast Tourism Crisis Information Hub, a digital resource for local industry to access information on tourism business preparedness, resilience and crisis planning.

Highly Commended: RAW Mind Training Pty Ltd

RAW Mind Coach

RAW Mind Training Pty Ltd partnered with researchers at the University of NSW and the Black Dog Institute to develop an online learning program, designed to build psychological resilience amongst emergency services workers. The development of the online program was based on a pilot research project with Fire and Rescue NSW. Following the successful research trial, RAW Mind Coach has now been made accessible to all of NSW Ambulance and Fire and Rescue NSW.

Government Category

Winner: NSW Rural Fire Service

10 Years of NSW Rural Fire Service Prepare Act Survive Campaigns

NSW Rural Fire Service is being recognised for 10 years of successful multi-channel public safety campaigns to enhance community understanding of fire risk and increase bush fire preparedness. The campaigns have applied flexible and innovative approaches including behavioural insights for improved community engagement. As a result of the campaigns, the NSW Rural Fire Service successfully increased bush fire preparedness activities in NSW which is demonstrated in the number of households with a bush fire survival plan.

Highly Commended: NSW Department of Primary Industries (Agriculture)

Sir Ivan Fire Recovery Support Service

The Sir Ivan Fire Recovery Support Service provided outstanding customer service, utilising a client-centric model and appropriately skilled and experienced Recovery Workers to support people impacted by the Sir Ivan Fire with their recovery efforts. The Service worked with a number of local partners from both government and community organisations. The independent evaluation concluded the Service was a huge success, with clients feeling more resilient as a result. The model is the first of its kind and has been applied and adapted for other successful recovery operations in NSW.

Local Government Category

Winner: Tweed Shire Council

Industry Central Land Swap Project

This project has created a strategic solution to assist selected landowners and businesses located within the high risk flood zone in South Murwillumbah industrial precinct to relocate to flood free land via a land swap agreement. The strategy was developed following 2017 ex-tropical cyclone Debbie, which highlighted the profound impact losses to local businesses would have on the wider community. This is an important mitigation strategy to remove current risk from the flood plain and build community resilience. This activity required extensive consultation, forward planning and significant effort by the council.

Highly Commended: Bega Valley Shire Council

Bega Valley Fire Community Recovery

A local community-focussed recovery initiative led by Bega Valley Shire Council. The council demonstrated exceptionally strong engagement principles and fostered community connectedness through a range of methods including a recovery support service, one year anniversary events and coordinating a funding program for local recovery activities. The success of this program is credited to council’s recognition of the power of community, a mindset based on community assets and capacities, and a willingness to use learnings from other NSW communities to enhance their local recovery.

School Category

Winner: Tathra Public School

When the Fire Met the Sea

Tathra Public School has developed a wonderful book of recounts, narratives, poetry and art following the Tathra and surrounds bush fires of March 2018. The work is in chronological order commencing with the hot windy conditions which precipitated the fires and concluding with a focus on rebuilding, regeneration and the community working together with a positive focus on the future. Through reflection of the fire, students turned a terrible event into a work which is empowering and beautiful. This project demonstrates community connectedness as Bega Rotary funded the initial costs and local businesses helped with distribution. The profits of book sales will help regeneration projects within the school and community.

Highly Commended: Murwillumbah Public School

Project Floodwatch

Following ex-tropical cyclone Debbie in 2017, the Floodwatch Project was created by teachers at Murwillumbah Public School to address education outcomes and increase student resilience. Staff recognised the Tweed Valley is frequently inundated by floods and the project aimed to increase student awareness and learnings of flooding. By partnering with NSW State Emergency Service and drawing on their expertise, the students were able to use technology to create mockup apps, websites and 3D models to develop solutions for their local flood risk. Through the process students have developed a greater understanding about floods and preparation, and have shared this knowledge with the wider community.

Highly Commended: Mount St Thomas Public School

Technology Can Keep Us Safe Project

Following the tragic death of a local child in a storm water drain, Mount St Thomas School researched their storm and flood risk with the help of their local NSW State Emergency Service. The students used robotics to create solutions to flood related problems and tested their ideas with the NSW State Emergency Service. By implementing an active learning environment to anchor and build on the students’ enthusiasm, they successfully increased schoolwide awareness of their local risks, and also influenced positive behaviour change.

Photography Category

Winner: Taylor Adair


The image shows an NSW Rural Fire Service Group Captain in Valla NSW. The photographer is depicting how NSW Rural Fire Service staff and volunteers put their life on the line voluntarily in order to save someone’s home or life.