The launch of Resilient KV, on Saturday 18 November, was very well attended and had an enthusiastic and warm community vibe, with community representation from all reaches of the Valley.
The organising committee was very appreciative of the interest and support for this new venture by so many people, including some important guests. Mayor Amanda Findley attended and addressed the meeting. The Shoalhaven City Council Local Emergency Management Officer, Hannah Bennett, also attended, as did Councillors Matt Norris and Tonia Gray. Apologies were sent by Councillors Serena Copley and John Wells. Our local RFS Deputy Captain, Dave Alexander, attended and was joined by Matt Reeves, the Shoalhaven District RFS Manager. The Deputy Captain and Community Engagement Officer of Beaumont Brigade, Loo Taylor, was also in attendance.
Also present was Zoe D’Arcy from Monash University, who has just completed a PhD thesis about community-led resilience. Her thesis includes the journey of Kangaroo Valley, the Kangaroo Valley Community Bushfire Committee and the Bushfire Ready Neighbourhood Groups, since their inception and throughout the Currowan fire experience. We look forward to reading her work and sharing it with the community when it is published.
Many of our local organisations were represented at the launch, including the Kangaroo Valley Community Consultative Body, the Kangaroo Valley Chamber of Commerce and Tourism and many of our local land care and conservation groups.
The Chairperson of Resilient KV, Simon Harrington, outlined the purpose of the association, to build Kangaroo Valley’s preparedness for and capacity to recover from future disaster events we may face. He observed that Resilient KV has its foundations in the Kangaroo Valley Community Bushfire Committee (KVCBC) and the Bushfire Ready Neighbourhood Groups, and will consider a wider range of potential disasters and hazards and a broader scope of possible activities and approaches.
Simon explained the benefits of becoming an incorporated entity (insurance, funding, recognition by government and other agencies), whilst emphasising that it is crucial to stay grassroots, with the Neighbourhood Groups always being at the heart of what we do. He also addressed the reasons why a new organisation was required, rather than being part of one of the many existing organisations in the Valley. Simon explained that the remit of specifically preparing for a range of possible disasters and being able to act independently, committed to furthering the interests and needs of the community by the community, made a separate group seem the best way forward.
Members of the existing committee introduced themselves, speaking of their involvement in the KVCBC and Resilient KV thus far, their passions and interests relating to our community’s resilience to disaster, and what they envisage contributing to Resilient KV’s future endeavours. Simon outlined some of the ‘gaps’ in the present committee’s expertise and interests and expressed the hope that other community members will be able to step up to fill those gaps and others not yet thought of.
Committee member Paul Cooper then explained a key aspect of the comprehensive research that Wollongong University conducted about Kangaroo Valley’s activities in ‘Building Community Resilience to Bushfires’. The diagram he referred to illustrated the interweaving of the Kangaroo Valley community with a great many of the groups, organisations, agencies and other entities of relevance to our resilience, from both within and outside our community, which has since been considered and further developed by the Resilient KV committee. He invited attendees to consider the diagram and let us know of any important links or relationships that may have been overlooked.
Simon encouraged all members of the community to consider becoming members of Resilient KV as we all have much to offer and we will only be as strong and as effective as the members who participate.
Questions and discussion from the floor were then called for, and some interesting topics were raised – including Neighbourhood Safer Places, the expansion of neighbourhood groups and the consideration of measures to achieve retention of water in the landscape to avoid destructive runoff.
There were many interesting and productive conversations, both before and after the formal proceedings, over a cuppa and afternoon tea. The committee offers a huge thank you to everyone who came along and to all those who offered practical support to make the afternoon run smoothly.
All in all, the afternoon felt like an exciting start to this new community venture, an opportunity to connect with each other and to take the next important step forward in the journey of growing safer and stronger together.
If you would like to become a member or find out more, please contact me at email@example.com.
on behalf of the Resilient KV Committee