Special Presentation – What Can We Learn From Community Response to 2013 Tasmanian Bushfires?

Fiona Jennings stacking the remains of a chicken shed after fire destroyed her home in Dunalley, Tasmania, in 2013.

 

In January of 2013, Dr Fiona Jennings was living in Dunalley, a small fishing town on the southeast coast of Tasmania.

That summer the area would be devastated by bushfire, burning more than 23,000 hectares and destroying almost 400 homes and buildings.

Fiona and her partner stayed to defend their home, and spent four hours huddled in the shallow water of Norfolk Bay while the fire passed by.

At a special session at BRHS on Wednesday, Jan. 29, Dr Jennings will present on the findings of her research and provide insights to assist local bushfire recovery efforts.

When she at last emerged from the water, Dr Jennings, a trained social worker, began a long process of recovery and healing with the community that continues to this day.

Dr Jennings’ experience in the Tasmanian bushfires 2013 evolved into an ongoing role as a Regional Social Recovery Coordinator, and then into a lengthy period of research to examine how people directly affected by a catastrophic event such as a bushfire respond to that event.

Now a social worker at Bairnsdale Regional Health Service here in East Gippsland, she is seeing a community go through those experiences again.

This past October the Australian Journal of Emergency Management published Dr Jennings’ research on the 2013 Tasmanian fires, which related her first-hand experiences of what people impacted by those fires did during the emergency, in the immediate aftermath of the fires, and then in the months and years of recovery and relative normalcy that followed.

At a special session at BRHS on Wednesday, Jan. 29, Dr Jennings will present on the findings of her research and provide insights to assist local bushfire recovery efforts.

This session is most relevant to emergency services personnel and people in local government, health and community services, and community groups that are helping people recover from the bushfires.

When: Wednesday, Jan. 29
Time: 10.30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Venue: Monash Rural Health – Victoria St, Bairnsdale (adjacent to BRHS)

Seats are limited for the presentation, so please register your interest by contacting Dr Fiona Jennings at 5150 3388 or fiona.jennings@brhs.com.au.

The research is a qualitative study of community member’s involvement in the 2013 Forcett Tasmania bushfire disaster, and offers an understanding of how people directly affected by a bushfire disaster respond to that disaster and shift beyond concepts/ideas about ‘community-led’ or ‘recovery’ to illustrate a more pragmatic view of community disaster recovery.

In this study, residents depended on social processes that were familiar to them which helped them through a period of change.

Seats are limited for the presentation, so please register your interest by contacting Dr Fiona Jennings at 5150 3388 or fiona.jennings@brhs.com.au.