Photo of Kookaburra courtesy of Jackie Delaney

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Launch of Report on 'Lessons Learned' in Recovery

Dec 12, 2015

wellbeing lessons learned

Representatives of Wellbeing along with representatives of Local, State & Federal Governments at launch: (L to R) Jessie Huard (Red Cross), Morna Colbran (Winmalee Neighbourhood Centre), Trish Doyle (Member for Blue Mountains), Louise Markus (Member for Macquarie), Mayor Mark Greenhill, Jo Ridley (Blackheath Area Neighbourhood Centre), Kris Newton (MCRN), Jo Dennis (BM PHN), Janice Freeston (Ministers’ Association), Stan Pianko (Lions Club).

At the new Springwood Community Hub on Saturday 12th December, our local Blue Mountains representatives - Louise Markus MP, Trish Doyle MP, and BM Mayor Clr Mark Greenhill - jointly launched the Lessons Learned in Recovery report.

The report, compiled by Wellbeing Sub-Committee members from their personal experiences in the frontline of Recovery from the devastating 2013 bushfires, aims to improve responses to the next significant emergency event. The report’s recommendations focus primarily on the period from the establishment of Wellbeing as part of the Recovery Committee, to the transition to Council-led recovery.

Louise Markus, Federal Member for Macquarie, said at the launch: “The Lessons Learned in Recovery report compiled by the Wellbeing Sub-committee outlines the many lessons learned in the two years since the bushfires, and will be a valuable tool for dealing with unfortunate events that may arise in the future. I thank Kris Newton and the Wellbeing Sub-committee for putting this report together over two long years.”

“We wanted to capture successes and challenges from this experience, to ensure that the next time the Blue Mountains experiences an emergency event, we are better prepared to support the community through both the response and recovery processes”, explained lead author of the report, Kris Newton.“We hope implementing our recommendations will help to mitigate risk and exposure for residents in any future emergency events.

As we learned so much from similar reports (from those involved with recovery from the Black Saturday fires or the Christchurch earthquakes, for example), we want to make our insights available to other communities. We hope it will also prove useful to our local organisations in the future so they can hopefully ‘hit the ground running’ in the next emergency”, Ms Newton said.

Local Member Trish Doyle commented: “Recovery can take many years and there are local families who are still very much in the process of recovery. The Blue Mountains community is incredibly caring and there are a number of people and groups who have been critical to the recovery process. The expertise of local community organisations and networks cannot be under-estimated. I wish to congratulate and thank the Wellbeing Sub-Committee for its vital work over the past two years.”

“Our community owes a great debt of gratitude for the amazing work of the community services sector – and, most particularly, the members of Wellbeing (and their organisations, staff and volunteers)”, agreed Ms Newton. “Most of this recovery work has been, and continues to be, undertaken quietly in the background. This has been an enormous effort, and the passionate commitment to our community shown by all involved has been inspiring. This work has usually been in addition to their ‘day jobs’, and with no additional resources. The professionalism and dedication ‘above and beyond’ were, and remain, extraordinary.

The work of recovery goes on - people ‘bounce back’ at their own pace; this process often depends on their circumstances, and can’t be hurried. Many of the fire-affected are only now beginning to realise they need a little help with their healing process, and this support remains available to our community.”

Mayor Mark Greenhill concurred: “Recovery funding from Federal and State governments has come to an end. While we are immensely grateful for all the support provided by both tiers of government, ongoing support needs are only just starting to emerge. A recent survey shows that, in the past six months, 40% of respondents had sought counselling services; 31% had visited a GP due to after-effects of the fire; and 18% had consulted a psychiatrist. What we’re seeing is a second wave of psycho-social effects from the fires.”

Download a copy of the report: 


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