11 September 2019

Regional communities come together to share their experience with disaster

| Ian Campbell
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No BAL needed for the bush around Tathra to start rebuilding. Photo: Wendy Elliot #TathraStrong Facebook.

The people and environment of Tathra are rebuilding bit by bit. Photo: Wendy Elliot #TathraStrong Facebook.

Over the last seven months, the Bega Valley community has shown great resilience in the face of bushfires. That said, it has been tough and people will struggle for a while yet.

On Thursday night (November 1) community leaders from a number of other regional areas will be in Tathra to share their experience:

• Jane Laverty, Regional Manager, Northern Rivers NSW Business Chamber, reflecting on the Lismore/Northern Rivers Floods of 2017;

• Michael Sperling, Executive Officer of the Blue Mountains Accommodation & Tourism Association, survivor of the Blue Mountains Bushfire 2013;

• Steve Pascoe, 30 years experience in emergency management with the Country Fire Authority and Victorian State Emergency Service. Lessons of the Victorian Black Saturday Fires of 2009.

These three community leaders are in Tathra to share their stories and that of their community:

• What really made a difference for the community to recover and grow?

• How did disaster impact on jobs and businesses, what new opportunities were created?

• How does it change the way the community prepares for future disasters?

Business and tourism recovery will be a focus, but the whole Bega Valley community is invited to gather to hear these stories of grief and recovery and take strength and lessons from the experience of others.

Ms Laverty says leadership, courage, and determination have been key to her communities recovery from the floods of 2017.

“Maintaining a united and connected community is critical. Maintain ongoing communication and prioritise checking in with people affected,” she says.

“It’s really important that we rebuild community confidence and communicate our ‘place strengths’ for the younger people who are more concerned about the future than we realise.

“Marking the milestones and acknowledging the efforts and resilience of the whole community to get back on their feet whilst not sugar-coating the fact that you are still in recovery,” Ms Laverty says.

Thursday’s discussion at Tathra Public School signals the start of a larger twelve-month project, the Tathra-Sapphire Coast Tourism Resilience Innovation Project, funded by the NSW Office of Emergency Management, and supported by the Tathra Chamber of Commerce, and Bega Valley Shire Council.

A free BBQ will be available from 5.30 pm for a quick bite to eat before the presentations start at 6.00 pm, followed by a question and answer session with the audience until 8 pm.

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