National award a great way to raise awareness of bushfire safety 

The combined efforts of four local volunteer bushfire brigades to protect and educate residents have been recognised at the Resilient Australia Awards.

The Wollombi Valley Community Firewise Program – conducted by the NSW Rural Fire Service brigades of Wollombi, Laguna, Bucketty and Millfield (Group 8, Lower Hunter Zone) – won a highly commended award in the volunteer/community group category at the national awards in Canberra earlier this month after taking out the state award in October.

The program has been developed over the past eight years, providing the community with protection from fire, as well as delivering education regarding how to prepare for bushfire, what steps to take in the event of bushfire, and most importantly how to survive.

Initiatives have included community bushfire safety forums and presentations, bushfire survival planning workshops, property inspections plus the provision of bushfire safety information to the community via a wide range of traditional and electronic channels, including local media, community websites and Facebook, information kiosks, and open days.

“The team is very proud to have received this special award, but stress that our single goal is to ensure the wonderful community of Wollombi Valley is a firewise community,” Wollombi Rural Fire Brigade deputy captain Glenn O’Rourke said.

“We consider the winning of the award as a great way to raise people’s awareness regarding the risk of bushfire and the importance for those living in or near the bush to have a bushfire survival plan.”

The awards are an Australian Government initiative delivered in partnership with states and territories and received 108 entries this year – a record number.

Formerly known as the Australian Safer Communities Awards, the Resilient Australia Awards were renamed to reflect the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience.

Member for Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon congratulated the brigades on receiving the award.

“While natural disasters can be unpredictable, we can all be better prepared, and that’s what this project is all about,” Mr. Fitzgibbon said.

AWARENESS: Wollombi Valley community members who particiapated in a bushfire safety workshop and some of the volunteers who helped run the workshops.

AWARENESS: Wollombi Valley community members who particiapated in a bushfire safety workshop and some of the volunteers who helped run the workshops.

HONOUR: Pictured at the awards presentation at the National War Memorial is NSW RFS Lower Hunter community safety officer Glenn Byrnes and Wollombi Valley Firewise team volunteers Alan Johnston (group officer, Wollombi Valley), Jordis Pointu (group officer support), Glenn O’Rourke (deputy captain, Wollombi Brigade), Leanne Bell (deputy captain, Wollombi Brigade) and Tony Hawkins (captain, Wollombi Brigade).

HONOUR: Pictured at the awards presentation at the National War Memorial is NSW RFS Lower Hunter community safety officer Glenn Byrnes and Wollombi Valley Firewise team volunteers Alan Johnston (group officer, Wollombi Valley), Jordis Pointu (group officer support), Glenn O’Rourke (deputy captain, Wollombi Brigade), Leanne Bell (deputy captain, Wollombi Brigade) and Tony Hawkins (captain, Wollombi Brigade).