In November 2019, New South Wales and Queensland were on fire. North Warrandyte resident Max was listening to a media broadcast and learned that 30% of the affected people had no insurance and 30% were underinsured. He was so shocked about this information that he contacted me, in my capacity as Chair of the Board of a Bendigo Bank Community Bank to get some financial support. His idea was to organise a workshop for the locals at a country hall to talk about insurance, bring in some experts and educate our community.
At the time, our Community Bank Branches were putting out community grants so the money was available. Max asked if I would participate and so a small group of us began organising a public meeting in Panton Hill (VIC) for March 2020. About a month before the scheduled get-together, COVID-19 came along and closed down Melbourne. By August it was clear that having a public meeting before the end of the year was highly unlikely.
The local CFA district was running successful Zoom discussions across their brigades so we decided, ‘why don’t we do that with the community and if we’re setting up for one webinar, we might as well do a series.’ So, Bushfire Resilience Inc. was established and five webinars created and delivered online during October and November 2020.
Our group invites recognised experts to speak on what the scientific research shows, make it engaging, valuable and relevant content for a broad audience. The first webinars covered thought-provoking and practical topics ranging from Getting Your Insurance Right, Understanding Rebuilding through to How Houses are Destroyed in Bushfire. After doing one series that year, we’ve chosen to run one every year since. We’ve covered topics that aren’t usually covered, such as Involving Children in Bushfire Planning, Pets and Horses in Bushfire Planning, Last Resort Options, Physical and Emotional Reactions, Triggers to Take Action. Four years on, we now have twenty webinars on our website, interviews with experts and real-life experiences which provide unique information to households. When we started, we were focussed on Nillumbik Shire but interest has grown Australia-wide.
Bushfire Resilience Inc. is an independent community-led organisation that is not associated with, and does not promote the interests of any other organisation or community group.
The members of Bushfire Resilience Inc. all live in bushfire-prone locations around Victoria, mainly in the Shire of Nillumbik. Each of us has a long association with activity concerning bushfire preparedness and community resilience. We have bushfire knowledge and lived experience. We want to help people and spur them to take action.
In addition to webinar recordings, our website offers a wide range of bite-size content at no cost. Our aim is to provide high-quality, evidence-based, best practice bushfire knowledge to people living with bushfire risk.
More information can be found here.
Malcolm Hackett OAM,
Founding member of Bushfire Resilience Inc