Bunyip to the rescue

The Community Recovery Committee Bunyip Fire Complex outside the Tonimbuk Hall. 198297_01

By Mitchell Clarke

A bushfire victim from New South Wales mid coast region has turned to Bunyip’s Community Recovery Committee for assistance and support in rebuilding her ravaged community.

Lucinda Fischer’s parents’ house in Rainbow Flat was destroyed by bushfires in November and her house was evacuated in the disaster which destroyed approximately 35 percent of the Mid-Coast council area.

Now, two months on from the initial disaster, the community is looking towards their own recovery process and Ms Fischer has turned to Garfield North’s Tony Fitzgerald and his team for inspiration.

“I actually stumbled upon the Bunyip Community Recovery Committee by accident, by searching for ‘community recovery committee’ in a Facebook search,” Ms Fischer explained.

“I have had a great deal of trouble trying to locate helpful resources. It has taken weeks to try and get in touch with the right people and I have spent more hours than I’d like to admit researching.”

But Mr Fitzgerald was quick to assist and has shared his own personal experiences following the Bunyip bushfires, providing Ms Fischer with useful tips in establishing a recovery committee.

“Tony has been an absolute goldmine of knowledge,” she added.

“I think too because your community has gone through this so recently, I’ve been able to get a lot of really valuable ‘how to’ information on a practical level. He’s been just wonderful.”

Mr Fitzgerald and his team have provided their newfound friends in New South Wales with recovery plans, committee structures, community surveys and more, but they’ve also told them about the importance in liaising with local council, working with local media and dealing with politicians.

“On behalf of the committee, we’re delighted that all the stuff we’ve put together has been able to help in some way or another,” he said.

“It’s a great feeling that what we’ve done can now be shared with others and help them along the way with their journey.

“The way that we can help others is the main thing.”

Despite initially struggling to establish a positive relationship with her local council, Ms Fischer has been able to liaise with Cardinia Shire Council representatives.

“I’m now able to go back to our own council and say ‘hey, these guys did this’,” she said.

“It’s been a slow burn, given the geographical extent of what has happened for us, it’s fair to say we’ve all done the best we can.”

Ms Fischer is in a good place currently, having built a “wonderful rapport” with council, the Office of Emergency Management and charitable organisations and clubs.

They’re now set to host their first formal community meeting in the coming days.

“I’ve been told by two very wise old family friends ‘don’t reinvent the wheel’, people have been through this before us,” Ms Fischer explained.

“I strongly feel that there’s a lot of value to be had in learning from the path that your committee is travelling, which can then be applied as relevant to help our own community recovery process.

“I am so grateful to have tracked Tony down.”

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