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Issue #1 • 14 October 2021

FLOURISH FLYER

Dear colleagues and friends,

Welcome to the Flourish Flyer and thank you for your interest in Fire to Flourish.

I’ve been reflecting on the importance of connection. The COVID-19 lockdowns have given us the chance to strengthen and create connections with our families and neighbours, our natural environments, even the barista at our local coffee shop.

Fire to Flourish has been doing the same. In the last few months we’ve been reaching out, introducing the program, building relationships,  and exploring how Fire to Flourish can complement and add value to the many other fantastic initiatives and organisations seeking to support communities to build resilient and thriving futures. 

Through these connections, we’ve been growing our understanding of how the principles that guide us - including being community-led, foregrounding Aboriginal wisdom, and enhancing inclusion and self-determination - can be put into practice as we continue to plan, design and implement Fire to Flourish program activities. 

We’re laying foundations with our partner Focus Communities, and begun early research work to scope and design the learning and knowledge generation focus of Fire to Flourish. We’ve held our first public event - a webinar co-hosted with the Paul Ramsay Foundation - where three community leaders shared their reflections on key enablers of community-led disaster recovery and resilience - and are now planning our next community forum. 

Thank you to everyone we’ve connected with so far. It’s been wonderful to engage in such rich discussions, be inspired by all sorts of amazing initiatives, and share commitments to collaborate across boundaries. There is clear nation-wide focus and momentum for strengthening community-led resilience. We look forward to contributing to these collective efforts to support communities through journeys of disaster recovery, building resilience and creating flourishing futures.  

This is our first Flourish Flyer  - future issues will arrive in your inboxes quarterly. We’ll provide updates, share opportunities for involvement, and offer insights and invite discussion on what we are learning as we walk alongside our partner communities and other collaborators. Please don’t hesitate to reach out - we always welcome your feedback and connection.

 Briony Rogers, Fire to Flourish CEO

Program vision

Fire to Flourish’s vision is that communities are supported and enabled to have the capability and agency to lead their local recovery in the wake of disaster, and to build the social connections and conditions for long-term thriving and resilience.

Meet Fire to Flourish's Partner Communities

We are pleased to introduce three of our Focus Communities, in the local government areas of Clarence Valley, Tenterfield and Eurobodalla. Work has begun with community members in Clarence Valley and Tenterfield, with Eurobodalla to start later this year. A fourth partner community will also join the Program shortly.

Now, Future, How

“To hear [Fire to Flourish is] coming for five years gives me goosebumps. We need to know what we’re recovering to; our past state no longer exists,” said a community co-designer. 

Fire to Flourish has commenced work with two of its four Focus Communities to share, learn and together design and test innovations in community-led recovery and resilience building.  

Each community partnership starts with activating local co-design groups, made up of a diverse range of community leaders, who are coming together to discuss their lived experiences of bushfire and develop a vision for their community, articulated in a ‘story for change’.  We call this process ‘Now, Future, How’. 

The Community Co-designers in Clarence Valley are the furthest along in their Now, Future, How process, having already met together to share and start envisioning future possibilities and transformative change for their community. 

“I would love to learn and explore ways to help gently heal and bring our fearful, lost people together; in simple ways to feel that their recovery matters, to dream and plan a brighter future, to prepare our community better for disaster, to have some fun together and to grow a new inclusive community out of the ashes of the fires,” said one of the Clarence Valley Co-designers.  

The co-design groups are already learning from each other and the culturally different approaches to the resilience-building process. 

To strengthen our partnership with the Focus Communities, we are prioritising cultural training for the Program team and community co-designers, through a unique partnership between local Indigenous co-designers, Monash University’s William Cooper Institute led by Professor Jacinta Elston, and TACSI’s Aunty Vickey Charles. Each contributor is helping share the unique stories, histories and practices of local Aboriginal people in our Focus Communities, reflecting one of Fire to Flourish’s principles: to foreground Aboriginal wisdom.

“These lands have been looked after well for over 60,000 years because of deep learning and education on Country. Living this principle ensures these ways of doing and knowing are part of, not separate to,” said Aunty Vickey, an Alawa/Mara woman. 

Fire to Flourish is also bringing this principle to life through an Indigenous Partnership Group, helping ensure Indigenous perspectives, knowledge and ways of being are foregrounded so the program can create meaningful and lasting positive impact for Aboriginal communities.

Fire to Flourish’s focus is to create the best foundations for the Program to be community-led; to ultimately be designed and delivered by people with lived experience of the 2019/20 summer bushfires in contexts where people have faced inequality.


An Agenda for Change

 

We published our inaugural research report calling for a transformative approach to disaster resilience, and outlining the importance of community-led responses as a foundation for improving disaster preparedness, response and recovery.
 

READ AND DOWNLOAD An Agenda for Change: Community-led Disaster Resilience

 

Briony Rogers on “Climate Conversations”


Program CEO Briony Rogers sat down with Robert Mclean from Climate Conversations to talk about community resilience in the face of climate change. 
“It’s really important to think about leaving no one behind... How do we make sure everyone’s voices are part of this conversation so we’re really creating a future for all?” 

Listen here
Our Research Approach

Fire to Flourish draws on the knowledge and perspectives of community members, Indigenous peoples, practitioners, government and non-government institutions and researchers - all of whom bring different and unique insights and experiences to the program. This approach is known as ‘transdisciplinary’.

Our research program is focused on learning more about how community resilience to bushfires and other disasters can be strengthened in ways that address disadvantage and improve people’s lives. Through transdisciplinary research, we will contribute to the growing and much needed evidence base of what works in practice for local communities. We will also generate insights on what system changes may be needed to support more widespread adoption of community-led recovery and resilience approaches. 

Co-designing research priorities of local communities is central to Fire to Flourish - our research will be for, with and in service of communities. 

“You can’t contribute to solving the big challenges of today unless you’re connected to and engaging the people who those challenges affect. It’s really that simple and that complex,” says Professor Cathy Wilkinson. 

Communities will have the opportunity to shape research that matters to them. This includes exploring roles for interested community members such as co-researchers, citizen scientists as well as active participants. 

A diverse range of researchers have come together as part of the transdisciplinary team from across Monash University, bringing insights on resilience planning and practice, disaster management, social capital, health and wellbeing, Indigenous ways of knowing, place making and the built environment, economics, ecology and our natural environment, governance and system change, scenario planning, gender, as well as many others. Professor Brian Martin, Associate Dean Indigenous and Director of Wominjeka Djeembana with Monash University’s Faculty of Art Design and Architecture is leading Indigenous research.  

If you would like to learn more about our research program or explore research partnerships please get in touch.



Join us for the Growing Community-led Disaster Resilience Forum

Jointly hosted by Fire to Flourish & MUDRI, the Forum will showcase speakers with experiences and ideas on current and practical approaches for building connections and sustainable partnerships to strengthen resilience within local communities.

For the last ten years, Monash University’s Disaster Resilience Initiative (MUDRI) has hosted Forums highlighting Victorian community-led resilience building initiatives. This year’s event marks an exciting new chapter, through collaboration with Fire to Flourish.

Register Here
Interesting things we've been looking at and listening to

After The Disaster Podcast

“You've been through a disaster — what next?”
This podcast, produced by the ABC, the Australian Red Cross and the University of Melbourne and supported by Bushfire Recovery Victoria and the Bushfire Natural Hazards CRC, explores recovery and “how to manage all the stuff that comes after the lights and sirens have finished up”.
Listen here



Artwork


Last year, The Canberra Times cartoonist David Pope created a series of retro posters to help promote tourism in towns along the South Coast of NSW after the bushfires, called South Coast is Calling



This year he’s back with a series depicting the lesser-known creatures of Kosciuszko National Park for Threatened Species Day and to help bring attention to the impacts of climate change on our environment. 

When it comes to preparing for disaster there are 4 distinct types of people. Which one are you?


The Conversation has published this piece with research that shows when it comes to getting ready for disasters, there are four types of people.
"And this matters, because good disaster preparedness doesn’t just help people during and immediately after a disaster – it can also mean a quicker recovery." 

Read More



 

Mindful Moment: Connecting with Country

Take a moment to watch this beautiful clip from ABC TV's documentary series Back to Nature. 
The clip features landscapes, Traditional ceremonies, Aboriginal Elders and storytelling. 
For more information on Fire to Flourish please visit our Program page or contact firetoflourish@monash.edu 
 
Website coming soon 

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and Owners of the lands on which we work and live across Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging and acknowledge the sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We are committed to collaboration that furthers self-determination and creates a better future for all.
Fire to Flourish is led by Monash University, with the Paul Ramsay Foundation, Metal Manufactures Pty Ltd and The Australian Centre for Social Innovation as cornerstone partners.

Copyright © 2021 Fire to Flourish, All rights reserved.


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