23 community stakeholders from across Eurobodalla have forged a leadership network to boost their capacity in supporting the region through bushfire recovery, and its response to future challenges and opportunities.
It’s the outcome of the Regenerate Eurobodalla leadership development program that has equipped them with the tools, skills, resources and connection to effectively collaborate and make a meaningful impact.
The Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF) delivered the program in partnership with the South Coast Health and Sustainability Alliance (SHASA) and Global Learning, working with community, business, land, emergency, government and other key stakeholders to ensure its success.
Taking action in the community
The cohort put their learnings into action through community projects they’re pursuing that focus on:
· Collaborating with key community organisations to develop a Eurobodalla Preparedness Guide in the absence of an accessible directory with vital information.
· Establishing a Disability Reference Group to empower people with disabilities, ensuring their active participation in decision-making and promote inclusivity and equal opportunities within the community.
· Educating and informing the community on how to better prepare for disasters through the use of the Lightwave virtual environment – a tool used to increase understanding of heatwave havens, microgrids, the behaviour of bushfires, flood and other weather events.
· Building relationships and sharing knowledge between local First Nations people and farmers in food production followed by workshops and case studies, with the aim of working collaboratively to heal Country, community and decolonise the local food systems.
ARLF chief executive Matt Linnegar says the collaborative efforts of the cohort through these projects and others will help boost the social and economic prosperity in the region.
“Network leadership requires knowledge and skills for a group of leaders to work collectively, despite their differences, on a shared purpose for the greater good,” he says.
“The core of what the ARLF does is exposing people to situations and ideas that will enable them to see a bigger picture, a different perspective and ultimately have the courage to put their ideas into action, bringing others with them.”
The leadership experience was life changing
For Malua Bay based participant and accountant Matt Thomas, the program was life changing.
“I’ve never seen 23 people who had so little in common overall become so open and honest with each other. So, I yeah that’s really been life changing for me in terms of how open and honest I can be with people now. I don’t think I’ve ever been accused of not being open, but it’s certainly changed my life in that I have learnt to listen and be a lot more patient. And they’re great lessons to learn.
“These programs have a huge value to the community. I could see networking between different community organisations and groups is going to be that much stronger. And that’s going to have a lot of positive benefits for the community. Instead of standing alone, they’re about work a lot more together and support each other, and there’ll be less duplication of effort and a lot more output and more results from it.”
Anglicare bushfire recovery worker Von Hutcheson of Dalmeny agrees the outcomes and group projects will be impactful. Von is working with others to create the Eurobodalla disaster preparedness guide.
“It’s like a magnet you put on the fridge in every household that tells you exactly the numbers, where to find some information that you need when the disaster hits you. There is no such thing [at the moment]. It’s really aligning with the preparedness space and the rebuild space that we’re working with to have people better prepared in this next disaster.”
SHASA president Kathryn Maxwell adds: “Building the leadership capacity of 23 locals will have a lasting legacy in relation to achieving a resilient Eurobodalla. SHASA looks forward to future engagement with these movers and shakers.”
The Regenerate Eurobodalla program received grant funding from the Australian Government. It is part of the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery program that aims to support and build resilience in bushfire impacted communities in NSW and the ACT.
It aligns with the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience’s focus on achieving community resilience through collective and shared responsibility and empowering individuals and communities to create change.