In the wake of the Black Summer bushfires, a group of Eden locals has come together to create an emergency preparedness guide for their community after they wanted to have a voice in potential future disasters.
In fact, the idea has already gained such interest that other towns in the Bega Valley have asked the creators for help in making their own.
Eden Community Access Centre manager Carina Severs said the Eden 2551 Emergency Preparedness Guide was produced by a small group of people who recognised the need for better information about emergency readiness.
“It’s a simple two-page flyer designed to inspire people to plan, prepare and act,” she said.
“The team worked together to create a guide specific to the needs of our town and outlying areas.”
Ms Severs said the access centre had been receiving a lot of feedback from its community about the need to prepare for disasters, as well as what the community was doing and what it could do.
Members of the Eden Project Lab decided “Let’s do something”, she said. One of them had seen a similar preparedness document in another town so the team decided to research their own and pull it together.
Ms Severs said that since the bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, people had wanted to have a voice in future disasters and wanted to ensure that the next time one arose, their community was better prepared.
She said members of the lab had had terrible experiences during Black Summer and “A lot felt disempowered. They felt like they didn’t have a say in what was happening to them.”
Creating the guide gave them a chance to feel like they were contributing, she said.
“I’m really proud of my community, that they’ve stepped up and taken some responsibility.”
Those who receive Eden’s guide will see basic information on emergency organisations, a map showing exit routes from town, safe places to seek refuge, tips on getting yourself and your property ready, and more.
Ms Severs said she’d had people from other Bega Valley towns contact her to ask about creating their own and she had passed on the Project Lab’s template to them.
The community of Rocky Hall had already started creating its guide, she said.
Project team member Sue Horton said during the design process, which included working with emergency services representatives, the group learned a great deal about how emergencies are managed.
“We found out that the Local Emergency Management Committee (LEMC) is the body responsible for coordinating an emergency response in the Bega Valley Shire,” she said.
“They are the ones who have their fingers on the pulse about every emergency and make decisions about things like evacuation and evacuation centres. All of this is dependent on the kind of emergency and, with fires for example, how they are behaving and in what direction they are travelling.
“It’s a good feeling to know we have created something that helps clear up some misunderstandings and lack of information about local emergency management and being prepared.”
Eden’s guide is being distributed to letterboxes throughout the town and its surrounding localities ahead of the summer holiday season, as well as to holiday accommodation businesses including caravan parks and motels.
Anyone wanting one can pick it up at the Eden Community Access Centre, on the corner of Imlay and Mitchell streets, or can download a copy from the centre’s website.
The Project Lab meets at the Eden Log Cabin every second Thursday, although sessions are on pause over summer and will continue in 2024 from 1 February at 5:30 pm. All members of the community are welcome to attend.