When: 10am-4pm, Sunday 23 February 2020

Where: Kerferd Conference Centre, Mayday Hills, Beechworth

Event Flyer: (click to view PDF)

Media Release: Bushfire forum – Our community supporting recovery

Register here:  via Evenbrite


Much of our region has been bushfire affected. As a result, many people are involved with recovery efforts – some as a part of agencies, and many as ‘accidental’ leaders – those who others seek out for information and advice, and who find themselves in co-ordination and connection roles.

Experience following the 2009 fires shows that long term community recovery is best led by community people, but they need support to understand the bigger picture, and the long-term nature of recovery.

Our Community Supporting Recovery Forum has been designed to respond to the needs of on-ground community ‘leaders’. A partnership between Alpine Valleys Community Leadership, Wangaratta’s Susan Benedyka and facilitator Cath Botta has been developed to put on the forum.


The forum is designed to support and build capacity of our local community leaders and community organisations and is based on these core principles for disaster recovery promoted by the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience:

• Use community-led approaches – Successful recovery is community- centred, responsive and flexible, engaging with community and supporting them to move forward.
• Coordinate all activities – Successful recovery requires a planned, coordinated and adaptive approach, between community and partner agencies, based on continuing assessment of impacts and needs.
• Communicate effectively – Successful recovery is built on effective communication between the affected community and other partners.
• Recognise and build capacity – Successful recovery recognises, supports, and builds on individual, community and organisational capacity and resilience.


The program for February 23, 2020 has three key elements:

• Communication between community, government and partners – sharing information on what is happening and who is doing what
• Building capacity of community leaders and representatives of community organisations involved in recovery activities – training on a range of relevant topics such as psychosocial recovery, community recovery, keeping communities connected, caring for yourself and others, decision making in times of crisis
• Coordinating the efforts and supporting community led approaches– open space session on topics most relevant to participants and resulting in future community led activities, events, and actions


Organisers expect about 150 community leaders – local government leaders and councillors, service club leaders – those who will be on the ground working beside their communities, those who are recognised as leaders, and those who have become ‘accidental’ leaders as well as graduates of community leadership programs (now over 400 graduates in our region of the AVCLP and about 20 graduates of Australian Rural Leadership Program in our region).

Agencies – government and non-government – will be there with staff and information. This is about community by community for community, and epitomises walking alongside, not doing to.

We are conscious that the number of people who wish to attend may exceed the numbers that the venue can hold, and Beechworth might not be accessible for all participants. We have organised livestreaming of the event and are currently working with a specialist on-line community engagement organisation to run parallel workshops with on-line attendees.


What is happening, who is doing what (information):

Ken Lay, Chair Bushfire Recovery Victoria

Dr Helen Haines, MP member for Indi (on-ground and Federal response)

Pat McNamara, Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund

What to expect (training)

Dr Rob Gordon – psychosocial recovery – what happens and what to expect

Anne Leadbeater – community recovery, impacts/expectations on accidental leaders, local government etc

Malcolm Hackett – Strathewen community recovery committee- keeping communities at the forefront – what happens when people are ‘doing to’ you, and how to keep/connect locals involved

Jill Hanlon, Social Works – caring for yourselves and other carers/leaders

For each of the speakers in this session, a presentation to the whole meeting (about 10 minutes or so) then we will break off into 5 workshop streams for about 1 hour for more detailed training on their specific topic including Q and A, interactions.

Desired Outcomes

• More informed, connected and engaged community leaders who understand the real trajectory and impacts of immediate response, short term recovery and long-term recovery (at the community level)

• Connections between participants that create clarity and collaboration for on-ground initiatives

• Resourced community leaders – with information and connections to key agencies (government and non-government)