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The central strategy for the implementation of this program was the establishment and support of the Information and Service Hubs. As discussed earlier, this ensured that local input was given a central role in all deliberations regarding recovery.
Establishment of the Information and Services Hubs at Murdunna, Dunalley and Sorell was a key part of this program to ensure a local connection and easy access to government services. The Murdunna and Sorell Hubs closed in May 2013 as activity through these locations had declined significantly by that time. Recovery Unit staff continued to provide services at the DISH until early 2014, at which point staffing and operations were significantly scaled back and the transition to alternative administrative arrangements implemented.
The diversity of activity at the hubs assisted in creating a welcoming atmosphere where people were comfortable to drop in for a conversation – an atmosphere that was actively cultivated by staff. This enabled an informal way to capture the mood and issues faced by the community throughout the different phases of recovery. Staff were able to pass these messages on to the Unit and AARCs to ensure decision-making was informed by the local experience. It was an effective way of engaging the community without formality.
Finding ways to keep people connected was most important. The establishment of an informal lending library, the Tool Library and the Vinnies Op Shop were all ways of giving residents a further pretext for paying a visit to the hub. This enabled them to stay in touch and often resulted in them being informed of new programs and developments, of which they may have otherwise remained unaware.
The Tasmanian Bushfire Appeal Community Assistance Grants provided funding from the Tasmanian Red Cross Bushfire 2013 Appeal to support community projects that would help rebuild and revitalise fire-affected communities. Up to $1.74 million was made available for these community projects from the Tasmanian Red Cross Bushfire 2013 Appeal fund.
Projects for the Sorell/Tasman area were developed over three rounds, with 28 projects approved for funding following an extensive public participation process. This process was guided by a flexible, phased Public Participation Plan. All projects were developed by community members, assessed for eligibility by a community panel, subjected to community feedback, and then recommended by STAARC to the Bushfire Appeal Distribution Committee for funding.
An online survey tool was used to collate and analyse community opinion regarding individual project proposals, and by the close of the consultation period for the final round, 520 individual submissions had been received. Table 2 shows the number of projects received and those approved by the community through the public participation process. The complete list of approved projects is provided in Appendix Five.
|Community Projects||Submissions received||Approved through public participation||Allocated funding|
|Central Highlands projects||3||3||$151,245|
|Total community projects||46||28||$1,750,955|
Figures accurate as of 20 May 2014
* $57,680 of approved Round 2 funding was not required, and was therefore re-allocated in Round 3.
** Included in this total is one large Dunalley Parks, Pathways and Playgrounds project that will have a number of components.
Another two recommended projects from this round were funded from St Vincent de Paul Society and the Salvation Army
There was a wide range in the scale and scope of projects – from bush dances for young people, through to walkways and cycle paths. In some cases project implementation will take some time owing to the need to secure development consent and the support of the landowner and land managers.
These projects represented a significant opportunity for the communities to improve recreational and other infrastructure, enhance the general liveability of the district and improve resilience to future bushfires. Recognising the opportunity to coordinate proposed community projects with the replacement of keystone infrastructure, such as the Dunalley Primary School and Community Hall, the Sorell and Tasman Councils engaged consultants to conduct community consultations and then present possibilities on concept masterplans, which were displayed for public comment.
This process gave further depth to the consultation of community members and demonstrated the level of commitment on the part of the council to achieve optimal outcomes. The masterplans are available for download from the Sorell Council website.
In the Central Highlands area, three community projects were recommended for funding by the Central Highlands AARC in response to feedback given through a number of public forums held in March 2013. The most significant of these projects is the upgrade of AM radio broadcast range in the area, enabling residents to tune in to local ABC radio to hear emergency warnings (among other things). This addressed a critical emergency communications issue that was identified by community members. The other projects were an upgrade of the community hall facilities in Ellendale that may be used in an evacuation, and a community noticeboard in Westerway.
In addition to the community projects, funding from the Red Cross Appeal was also made available for two recovery support grants. Table 3 details the distribution of the Red Cross Appeal funds towards community projects and grants.
|Community Grants and Projects||Submissions received|
|Community Project Grants||$1,750,955|
|beyondblue Tasmania Child and Family Disaster Response Project||$400,000|
|Neighbourhood House Revegetation and Garden Project||$300,000|
|Total for community grants and projects||$2,450,955|