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New role dedicated to bushfire recovery

23 November 2020

The region’s ongoing bushfire recovery effort has been given a significant boost with the appointment of a dedicated Bushfire Recovery Community Development Officer.

Jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments as part of the 2019 Queensland Bushfires Community Recovery Package under Category C of the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements, the new position will accelerate recovery and build resilience of those communities impacted by the September – December 2019 bushfires.

With previous roles in Community Development at the Southern Downs Regional Council and experience in the recovery space, Nicola Fisher has been tasked with the job of being the local face-to-face presence across the bushfire affected communities.

As the first point of contact, her role is to engage and identify community needs, facilitate developmental opportunities and community planning days and support prioritised community recovery and resilience projects.

Nicola said that the journey of recovery is complex, unique and lengthy and consideration of the impact of bushfire on social wellbeing has been at the forefront of her conversations with residents.

“Taking time for self-care, reaching out to access appropriate supports and staying connected with neighbours and community are key strategies which support recovery,” Nicola said.

The two- year position begins with engagement of residents in the most impacted areas of Stanthorpe, Applethorpe, Ballandean, Swanfels and Emu Vale. Nicola has visited over 160 properties so far and has found the visits invaluable in providing the opportunity to hear recovery stories, suggestions, feedback and innovations which will inform future community led projects.

“I have really appreciated the time, vulnerability and honesty of residents and would welcome contact from anyone who would like to discuss bushfire recovery, community needs and suggestions,” she said.

“Alongside community consultation activities, I will also look for opportunities to promote bushfire readiness and build on community knowledge and capacity.”

Southern Downs Councillor Sheryl Windle said the appointment would provide additional support to those impacted by the bushfires.

“This appointment adds another layer to the support and assistance that is already being provided to our residents affected by the bushfires to ensure that they continue to receive the help they need to rebuild and get back on their feet again,” Councillor Windle said.

“The recovery process has required a team effort from all levels of government and a countless list of charities and agencies. In her role, Nicola will be a dedicated resource and point of contact to ensure those in need get what they need.”

Round 2 of the Category C Flexible Funding Grants program opens January 2021 and will assist in implementing projects aimed at driving recovery and building awareness.  Funding for the Flexible Funding Grants is available under jointly funded Commonwealth-Queensland Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) through Category C Community Recovery Funds (CRF), and is administered through the Queensland Government.

Nicola can be contacted via email or by phone on 0447 466 619.

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