About Us

Our goal is to gather a register of what can be done to help our residents that have been affected by the fires and then use all the resources available to us to get it done. This includes temporary solutions while waiting for insurance claims to be processed etc. 

 

There is a lot of well intentioned help being offered to our area at the moment however there is little organisation, focus or clear communication. We hope to resolve this by having a register for volunteers as well as for residents who have skills, tool, time etc. to help rebuild their community. 

 

This group is organised by:

 

Jasmine 
Volunteer from Hawaii supporting her friends in Mogo
 
Diederick  

 

Mogo resident.

Rebecca 

 

Mogo resident

Our Story / Mogo's story - read, watch and listen

I have uploaded a lot of photos and videos as pictures tell a thousand words. Please read the below and then look at the photos and watch the videos. 

 

31st of December, the firestorm hit our town of Mogo and we were cut off from civilisation:

Some residents received the text message to evacuate and head to the beach at 6am, by then the smoke was already overhead and you could see the fire in the West. There were 2 initial fire fronts that roared through early in the morning from west to east from 7am. The northern front crossed to the north of Mogo, across Woodlands and Malua Bay, stopping at the ocean. The southern front crossed south of Mogo, across Jeremadra and stopped at Broulee. 70 metre high fire tornadoes headed down Dunns Creek Road. The water from the RFS hoses evaporated before they got anywhere near the fires. It was 47 degrees with 80km/hr winds and dry lightning. The oils from the trees were igniting creating a white fireball that rolled ahead of the flames.  It was pitch black by 11:30am. The heat and smoke burned your lungs on every breath. Those who had evacuated to the beaches were spared by a southerly change that brought fresh air and pushed the fires back away from us to reveal a 14 kilometre high storm front but these storm clouds were on fire. Our homes, our town and our loved ones were in that fire cloud. This southerly change sent the fire fronts in new directions, destroying most areas that had survived the initial front. 

No power, no phones, no internet, no radio, no tv, no eftpos, no way to get cash out, no power to pump petrol at stations.

Most residents had used the last of their water in their tanks and dams to fight the fires so no water to continue fighting fires or to drink or wash.

Even if you had water you had no pressure as water pumps need power and most pumps and tanks were destroyed anyway. 

No petrol to drive and find bottled water or other essentials.

No emergency services, 000 did not work.

Tomakin Club, the evacuation centre, was evacuated.

No access to hospital, pharmacy or medical services, no ambulance. All roads in and out of town were blocked by downed trees.

SES trucks and RFS trucks also then ran out of petrol.

It was a war zone.

Days of smoke haze and the roar of water bombing aircraft and helicopters above. The spot-fires would glow at night.

No communication between each other or the outside world. 

No-one showered and barely slept for a week. Family members took shifts sleeping so one person was always on watch.

A few locals still had water in their dams, our place was one, so Diederick and his mates Trav and Andy would fill the 1000L IBC on the back of Trav's ute and head out to put out fires. Everyone worked together, RFS and residents, flat out, for days. Those on the ground could not communicate with the water bombing aircraft or other emergency services. No-one knew what was happening outside of Mogo. Only UHF radios worked when in line of site as the repeater stations were down. 

On the 6th Jan some more of Diederick's friends made it through the road blocks. They brought with them generators, jerry cans, chainsaws, water, basic tools and petrol. Diederick and I headed out to drop them at residents homes. It was all bought and paid for by friends in Sydney. We then drove along the coast roads to Batemans Bay hardwiring generators into pharmacies so nursing homes and residents could access medications. I drove some generators down to Narooma where they then went on to the Womboyne RFS (3 hours south). That's how precious they were.

There remained no power or communication for weeks, if you had a Telstra phone you sometimes had phone / internet reception in a few spots. More friends arrived from Sydney with more generators, hey, lucern, fencing materials, beer and food and they set about helping out residents as best they could. Diederick had money being put into his PayPal account from people seeing what he was doing on instagram. With that he bougt more chainsaws and power tools, feed for wildlife and materials to make food and water stations. Also temporary fencing materials and more stock fodder.  The food and water stations were set up for the remaining wildlife and were filled by the (now superstar firefighting ute) which was perfect for keeping water troughs topped up.

I drove around and checked who needed what and then the boys would try to sort them out. There were no agencies on the ground, just a few policemen. Looting was becoming a problem and there were a lot of scared elderly residents with no essential services. Some had not showered in 3 weeks, their landlines were down, they had no running water or power. There was no-one checking on the people, only a few public works people from council taping off suspected dangerous houses and debris piles but not speaking to residents. Help was available in Batemans Bay Recovery centre but with no communication no-one knew about it. Leaving your house unguarded (and what little valuables you had left), using up what little petrol you had for an entire day to then be told you don't qualify for any assistance (Red Cross only originally offered $5,000 if whole house lost) was not an experience residents wanted to repeat even when more assistance became available. Leaving your property was always a gamble as falling trees, new fires, road closures or evacuations meant there was no way to know when you could return. 

 

A group of French and German volunteers travelled down from Sydney on 19th of Jan and contacted me as many people had ended up with my (new Telstra) number from driving around seeing who needed generators. The volunteers were amazing, helping residents begin their cleanup and fixing vital things like front gates for security. 

There was a lot of help and aid wanting to come down from Sydney but no-one on the ground knowing where it could go. Some well intentioned Sydney residents would show up at properties, expecting to be welcomed but there was no way to tell a "Good Samaritan" from a looter. This stressed people out even more. This website was then set up at the suggestion of Richard from the Business chambers (after driving into Batemans Bay for some very slow internet reception). Volunteers could sign up online and an online "Fire Impact" register was created to record who needed what. A volunteer named Reg arrived and helped me drive around, knocking on doors, seeing who was without power, water, shelter and who needed generators, water pumps, fresh water, basic tools, general help and specific trades. The paper forms were then entered into an online register and some residents filled them online. Samaritan's Purse, a Christian group then arrived and started helping clear dangerous trees. We were able to send them to many properties we had visited that had dangerous trees (this is kind of how I thought other aid organisations would use our database to get help where needed). More volunteers camped over the weekend and I would coordinate who went where and I guess that is where Greater Mogo Fire Recovery started. Diederick had to go back to work so it was just one person. 

Volunteers were providing practical manual labour and were qualified tradesman offering their time for free. They would finish work, drive to Mogo, work in the heat non-stop all weekend, then drive back to Sydney Sunday night. And would repeat this the next weekend as they saw the difference they made to the residents whole demeanour, not just their properties. The destruction was so complete and widespread, people did not know where to start. The volunteers started, they made a visual impact. They shared some meals and the residents could tell them about what happened. I could barely recognise some of the residents after, they looked like new people and they had focus. For days at a time communication would go down again and driving was the only way of communicating with people. More evacuations, more fires, road closures, all while trying to communicate with volunteers in Sydney, find materials, accomodation and organise up to 15 volunteers. Back up plans of back up plans were the norm and quite a few volunteers ended up staying in Batemans Bay some days because it was too dangerous to do any work or be on remote properties with no communication.

It soon became clear that little practical help was getting to residents and there were many still without any essential services weeks after the fires. Some had cash sums from the aid agencies but an elderly couple cannot contact their insurance agency or call a tradesman with no landline or phone reception. Trades were too busy anyway and supplies were back ordered for months (3 months for a water tank). Even if they did get through to their insurance, trades were not allowed onsite due to dangerous trees etc. So even as power was restored to the street, they remained not connected from the their house to the grid.

 

Help door-knocking was offered by Rotary and more streets were covered. GMFR became more of a "welfare check", seeing if people were OK as well as collecting information on which residents still had no power, water or shelter. This was not what we wanted or intended to do, we were only trying to see where best to send volunteers and essentials such as generators and water pumps. Mental health requests would be passed onto the Crisis mental health team. No-one wanted the rest of our information. 

I called my best friend in Hawaii who arrived 2 days later. A heat wave was about to hit and I was driving around trying to make sure elderly residents had generators that were working, that they had petrol and fresh water inside their homes (most tank water was contaminated).

 

Jasmine and I continued helping as many as we could with our limited resources. We had $5,000 from Rotary on an account at Cameron's Hardware and the amazing volunteers. But also the amazing generosity of those on social media, with some of the volunteers sourcing huge numbers of vital supplies like emergency 1000L IBC water tanks that were then dropped to residents on our database. 

There ended up being a register of 72 residents with two people on the ground trying to co-ordinate groups of 12 volunteers every weekend. Week-days were spent driving around assessing properties, speaking with residents, contacting our whole database about water drops and town meetings (this alone would take 2 days as we needed to drive to those without phones), arranging materials and then attending town meetings, pleading for help.

So that is our story, we are not an aid agency, we are not professionals, just two residents and one Hawaiian volunteering months of our time and sanity. You can read the "Critical Ground Reports" to see the progress of the recovery effort so far.

 

If you are from an aid or government agency (especially mental health) look at our photos and watch the videos. See what we all experienced and what it looks like off the main roads. Then you will see the reality of what has been happening here and understand better than I can possibly explain what needs to be done. 

Those who need help most have not asked or seeked it out and will not. Don't thank us for what we have been doing, do what we have been doing. 

Knock on every resident's door, take the information residents need to them. Offer them help, don't wait for them to ask. Show up on their doorstep and say "this is what we can do for you.... here is all the info on access to mental health help, the latest from NSW cleanup etc. I will be back next week to update you and again offer you help and accurate information, you do not have to seek it out."

See, watch, listen. it is obvious when you see people on their properties, in their situation, what can be done to help them. They then don't have to "prove" their need, you will see it. It is usually not anything huge or resource heavy and just a matter of matching up the right people. All the reps have come to the town meetings which is fantastic. But there is always this moment after they have spoken, when they want to give someone all their flyers and information...... who takes the stack of flyers?...... and they give them to me. "Community led recovery" cannot rely on exhausted residents to organise things or get info to residents. 

 

We have been operating as a "disaster relief organisation" only because no-one else was. I'm tired. Diederick's tired. Jasmine is tired. Look at and watch what we have been through.

 

 

From Rebecca, a very tired resident of Mogo. (Written in February)

What we think needs to be done to better prepare and respond to bushfires (written 28th October)

To Prepare: 

  • Have an adaptable plan for unprecedented conditions beyond any “worse case model”. Assume resources will already stretched and assets cannot be brought in from elsewhere. 

 

  • Essential assets such as radio repeaters and mobile towers need their own remote fire suppression system such as a halo system. ​

 

  • Have a plan for what happens if all communcations and power infrastucture are lost including including warning sirens and utilising UHF radio with mobile repeater stations. 

 

  • Back-up generators at petrol stations, general stores, medical centres, pharmacies and vets. Fuel reserves should be kept at rural hubs for emergency services (Batemans bay and Moruya ran out)

 

  • Residents should be able to stay on their property to defend as it lightens the load on emergency services but they must be prepared to have no assistance and have back up fire pumps, fuel, large water reserves, proper PPE, UHF radios and ideally mobile firefighting equipment (utes with IBCs and water pumps on the back). 

 

  • Ideally have a form of “neighbourhood watch” where it is known who is staying, which residents need to be checked on or evacuated.

 

Response / Recovery:

  • All of the below points work even when all phone and internet service is lost:

  • The army/ emergency services need to move systematically, door to door and assess how residents have been affected and offer immediate assisstance. They need to assess power/ water/ shelter and create a centralised database of victims. 

 

  • They need to return regularly to check in on them, re-assess and deliver accurate information on what is happening. Mental health professionals need to join them when safe to do so. 

 

  • Utilise this demographic information to evaluate the type of help and response required. Re-assessment is needed as needs evolve throughout the recovery process.

 

  • Use the database to distribute aid and resources when they become available, so the victims do not need to seek it out or prove their need or apply for it. This also ensures aid gets to those who need it urgently and keeps aid organisation honest as it can be checked that aid is reaching residents. It also lightens the load on aid agencies as they don't need to verify applications for aid.

 

  • Allow aid organisations access to the basic information on the database to assist them in distributing aid. Consent to share the basic information of residents can be obtained during the initial door knock. 

 

Royal Commission - Our Submission (Submitted 28th April)

In your experience, what areas of the bushfire emergency response worked well?

 

The groups that effectively helped residents; Rotary clubs, Samaritan's Purse, Lifeline, the Bushfire Housing assistance team, Co-ordinate/ PHN and the Disaster response legal service. These are not the ones talking about what they have done, they have been too busy doing it. They are the ones stretching their resources and funding to the max or they are operating outside what they usually do, changing how they operate to meet the need. The way they approach and operate during recovery works.

What worked well during recovery was our databases and speaking to residents on their properties, going door to door, street by street. This was vital to assess what their actual needs were and triage them appropriately. We could then send our limited resources and volunteer help to where it was needed first. Those that often need the most help do not ask and this way you find these people, their neighbours “dob them in”. The locals on the street generally know who needs the most help and where to find those that are not on their property or at least supply their contact information. This approach is especially important when most residents are retired elderly like in our area. This communal approach helps locals help other locals too. The below “fire impact form” is what was developed over the past few months. It evolved from just noting who needed generators, water, fuel, tools etc. to asking more questions as nobody else was. It now includes 160 residents in our area.

• First Name, Email, Last Name, Phone, Address
• Is your house uninhabitable? Yes/No
• Where are you living? Primary House /Living in another place (trailer, shed, "make do") on my property/Living elsewhere/ Need Accomodation/ Other / Prefer not to say right now
• What trades / services do you need? Electrician/ Plumber/ Gasfitter/ Builder / Carpenter/ Asbestos evaluation/ Landscapers/ Fencers/ Tree Assessment / Arborist/ General clean up crew/ Transport/ Domestic help, cooking, cleaning, washing etc./ Fodder for stock/ Fodder for wild animals
• Do you have power? Mains power/ Generater/ Need generater/ Need an electrician to asses my house, wiring, temporary setup/ Need an electrician to connect my generator directly to mains/ Need an electrician to connect my house back to mains
• Do you have water? Yes, have pressure from water pump, gravity fed or town water/ Yes but no pressure due to no power for pump/ Yes but no pressure as pump damaged or destroyed/ No, due to water storage or catchment system being damaged or destroyed/ Yes but it is contaminated
• Do you have a functioning hot water system? Yes/ No, because I have no power/ No, because my generator does not work with my hot water system/ No, it was damaged / destroyed/ other reason/
• Do you have a functioning sewerage/ septic system? Yes/ No, I do not need a temporary solution/ No, I need a temporary solution
• Is the below destroyed or damaged: Water tanks/ Water catchment area/ Water pipes/ Sheds or workshops/ Tools and machinery you usually use to maintain your property/ Residential fences / gates etc./ Rural fencing / gates etc.
• What tools and machinery do you need to maintian / fix your property or provide income?
• Were you at your house when the fire came through? Yes/ No
• Most people have been mentally affected by the fires, would you like (can pick more than one); A phone call from the mental health line/ A visit from a counsellor/ A chat and a cup of tea with a local/ A chat with another resident who stayed to defend their house
• Are there any essential services you need access to immediately?
• Is there anything that can be done immediately to make you feel more secure / safe at your property?
• What is most important to you?
• Any other helpful information?
• If filling in form for a neighbour please provide your contact details below

Because we ended having the only useful information on residents, I sent lists and information to the army, Crisis chaplains, Lifeline, NSW mental health teams, Samaritan’s Purse, The Bushfires Housing Assistant Team and also contact lists to cross check registrations with other agencies such as Laing O’Rourke (NSW cleanup).

The Office of Emergency Management or local council would not supply any information on residents to anyone. They would not give Laing O’Rourke information, such as rates databases so they could cross check their databases to see if they were missing any registrations in the areas where they knew everything was destroyed. Residents wanted this to happen at the town meetings.

The OEM (Office of Emergency Management) would not tell us if residents on our database were registered for clean‐up, registered with the recovery centre or had been assigned case workers. Residents did not know themselves as their experience was so confusing at the Recovery centre and databases were lost and mixed up all the time. We were the only group that could contact some residents by driving to them if they had no phone or internet. But OEM did not think this an issue to address.

The large aid organisations were just as restricted with what they could share. At no point during this entire exercise has any resident complained that they received a water tank or a call from a mental health line or that Samaritan’s Purse showed up to assess and remove dangerous trees. Or that they were added back onto the clean‐up list when their registration was lost.

 

During a natural disaster, there needs to be a centralised database and all agencies need to be able to share at least basic contact information to cross check databases. The database must be collected systematically, door to door, so that the correct demographics are known and the type of help needed can be assessed. No single disaster is the same, the needs of our community (retired elderly on 4 acre blocks) is entirely different to another. Getting information to these people then becomes easy. You message those you can, you call landlines and you drive to those with none. When appropriate resources or grants become available, victims don’t need to fill in new forms, you can assess the information from the database and then contact those who meet the criteria. Victims then don’t need to seek help, are kept updated and aid is supplied efficiently. It also keeps the aid organisations honest because you can check that aid is actually reaching residents.

Unfortunately our database was not utilised beyond sending lists to other groups and for our own use. OEM had access to all our information but did not act on it except to have Lifeline contact the residents.


In your experience, what areas of the bushfire emergency response didn’t work well?

We are fire affected residents ourselves, I evacuated to the beach, my partner stayed to defend, only just saving our house. We then worked with the RFS and neighbours putting out spot‐fires for 4 days straight. We were one of the lucky few with a house, mobile fire tank and pumps, chainsaws, water still in our dam, fuel etc so went around helping others including dropping generators at pharmacies. We ended up basically becoming an “aid organisation” because no‐one else was on the ground helping. I can only speak for our experiences in Mogo, Jeremadra, Malua Bay, Woodlands, Runnyford and Bimbimbie in southern NSW. I have visited over 100 residences and listened to their stories. I spent 3 months driving nearly every street in these areas, trying to get them power, water, shelter etc. We had about 40 volunteers who would regularly volunteer, mostly qualified tradesman and labourers. We now have a database of over 160 residents that we contact regularly.

Taking all these things into account, we know what was and wasn’t done on the ground. I have spent over 3 months pleading for support on the ground. Saying it is unacceptable for fire affected locals to be driving around trying to make sure elderly have fresh water over 6 weeks after the initial fires. We have spoken to the heads of all the government organisations and aid organisations. Many meetings, a lot of talk, with nothing eventuating. The Mogo township received some press but it was actually spared the complete devastation that affected the surrounding areas and suburbs.

In Victoria, the Red Cross worked with the army to do a welfare check on residents and then the army helped with clean‐up. In NSW, in our area (I can only speak for the suburbs above); no systematic welfare check was done on residents. Not the Red Cross or the army or any government or aid organisation actually checked on residents on their properties to see how the fire had impacted them. There was a “loss of life and structure” check (yes or no then house or outbuilding loss) immediately after the first fire with no details taken or follow up. Then some Public Works people checked for asbestos and taped off damaged structures.

Our area was a warzone, no power, no phone, no water, no internet, no radio, no petrol, no access, no outside help. The army arrived eventually. They were given addresses for water drops, chopping up downed trees and urgent fencing repair work (supplied by us as we were the only ones who knew anything) but they disappeared quickly after Laing O’Rourke got the clean‐up contract without completing anything except cleaning up the botanic gardens. The army was cleaning up the botanic gardens when elderly were literally dying in their back yards and not being found for a week because no‐one was checking in on them except one resident, me in a Subaru. Laing O’Rourke has now barely started the clean‐up almost 4 months since the fires. I am yet to hear back from the OEM on what they have actually achieved beyond having Lifeline call our database after months of meetings. They have now left local council with the task of dealing with the majority of the recovery work. But our council doesn’t even have anyone dedicated to fire recovery. In the worst hit area.

To date, no government or aid organisation can say they know that they have responded appropriately to the fires because they have not assessed how people have been impacted. They have no demographic information beyond total structure losses. They have no idea who has been missed / neglected / still without essential services / still living in rubble. Instead, they have relied on residents going into a Recovery centre or magically knowing when a “pop up” recovery centre will appear in their town. We went to the one “pop up” one that was at the local Boomerang centre and a total of 3 residents came because no‐one knew about it. We are still encountering residents that don’t know that a Recovery centre exists (it is closed now anyway) or that there are grants available. There is still terrible phone reception, poor internet access and many residents, mostly elderly, still don’t have their Telstra landlines reconnected, just 5 mins from town.

This was not a fire one day and recovery the next, it was 6 weeks of constant new fires, new evacuations, new road blocks, heatwaves and days on end without phone, internet or power. No‐one checked on residents throughout this time. We were just 2 residents driving around dropping off generators, water pumps, water, petrol etc. We started keeping track of who needed what as so many were in need and no help ever arrived. We ended up trying to doorknock as many as possible. Our pleas for help were ignored. Meetings held, nothing happened. Residents died.

When the traumatised and sleep deprived residents did get into a Recovery centre (leaving their properties unguarded to looters) they then had to plead / prove their need / explain how they were affected to multiple agencies and fill out multiple forms. And were then told “no you don’t meet the criteria” for most forms of support. This humiliating, exhausting and stressful trip would take between 5 and 7 hours and many never returned for these reasons.

The aid and government agencies did not track who or what they said “no” to, only who received help. So they have no idea of the actual demographic of the disaster. What the real needs were, or how badly residents were affected. Figuring out what the actual need is, is essential to responding to a disaster. We then started to amass a huge database of who needed essential services; power, water, shelter, mental health help. As well as what their situation was on their property, what was damaged, what tools they needed access to etc. This information was offered repeatedly to all the aid and government agencies. No‐one wanted to know about it and when they did ask for it, they did not act upon it or lied about what was done.

Not being checked on, being made to beg for help and humiliated, no clean‐up etc then developed into it’s own problem. Residents went into self preservation mode, into survival mode and stopped asking for help or seeking it. Additionally, the majority of residents in our area are retired elderly. They will not ask for help unless visited on their property. They will sit in their house, looking at their destroyed property, month after month.

The younger, wealthier residents or those closer to town, the “squeaky wheels” and those who know how to get what they needed said they had a good response to the disaster. These are the ones with internet and social media access. The ones that got the media attention and had their places cleaned up first or had council return their calls. That is 6 out of the 160 on our database.

 

The attitudes and ignorance of government staff did not help either. We were dropping emergency water supplies and the response from council was “it has rained now, their tanks should be full”. Unfortunately you can’t catch water if you have no tank, or no roof or your roof is covered in asbestos debris or your tank was still contaminated when it did rain so was unusable.


Then again, they don’t know how many residents lost their tanks so are unaware it is an issue. Because OEM did not think this important information to get from us (they knew we had it). Or they would say “their insurance should cover it” but they have no phone to call and book a water delivery and are relying on us driving by and seeing if their 1000L water tank that we supplied them with is nearly empty. If they could call, by the time they booked and waited for a $200, 10,000L water delivery for a 1,000L tank, they would have been out of water. When trying to get a water ticket so we could use a fill point to deliver water using our own 1,000L tank and pump on the back of a ute, we were told no, they are on drought restrictions.

I had to explain numerous times that if you have no power, you have no water because you can’t pump your water from your tank. “They can pick up bottle water from an aid centre” Again, I have to explain that an elderly couple cannot drive, lug all of their water into a car, out of a car, into the kitchen, the bathroom etc during 40 degree days when they have no power for air conditioning. And how do you shower with bottled water?

Most residents needed practical assistance due to no essential services; power, water, shelter, mental health help. Also dangerous trees, dangerous, unstable debris.

The emergency grants from the Red Cross and other groups were only available to those who had their houses destroyed. The majority of residents had everything but their house destroyed: fencing, water tanks, water pumps, septic, power infrastructure. Everything they need to fix their property was lost too as sheds, tools and machinery gone. But they had their house so did not qualify for any assistance.

Registering at the recovery centre did not mean anything or that you get any practical help. The categories they put people in did not apply to the situation. Insured vs uninsured/ low income / low asset does not apply as everyone was somewhere in‐between and didn’t fit either category. And it really had no relevance to if you needed immediate financial and practical assistance. To explain further:

• You are on your own if you are insured. But this does not take into account those who’s insurance went to their mortgage, or the huge number of underinsured. Many who were underinsured decided to do the free NSW clean‐up and took the payout for their insurance clean‐up so they could use it to rebuild to the now (much more expensive) fire codes. But then this clean‐up is still yet to happen. As of the 11th of April, of the 160 on our database, 5 have been completed and over 25 have not even been contacted yet despite registering months ago so are living in rubble or displaced. If you are fully insured it does not mean you still don’t need help with essential services. No phone reception to call your insurance agency / no internet / no trades available/ huge backlog on orders for water tanks and other essentials. Trades were not being allowed onsite due to dangerous trees not being assessed or removed by council. So even as power was restored to the streets, the residents remained not connected to the street.


• Then if you are un‐insured / low income / low asset you get a case worker assigned and maybe a payment for contents within 4 weeks of being approved. On the 3rd of April there were still no case workers assigned.

A Red Cross official representative announced at our town meeting in front of everyone that they were (finally) starting to door knock in our area that day. That was on the 11th of March, 2 weeks before Covid‐19 and did not happen.

The National Bushfire Agency sent a summary of one of our town meetings. The Issues / Concerns raised section is good. The action owner/ outcome section was incomplete, completely inaccurate and in no way goes to solving any of the issues raised. Many were never carried out. The meeting was called because of the mental health crisis in our area, the suicides, and also the lack of any welfare checks. And somehow one of the "action owner/outcomes" was for our community group to keep door knocking and check in on locals and vulnerable people. IT's NOT OUR JOB!

"Community led recovery" sound great, except when then entire community is affected and every organisation refuses to work with or help them and instead makes them do the job of all the government and aid agencies.


In your experience, what needs to change to improve arrangements for preparation, mitigation, response and recovery coordination for national natural disaster arrangements in Australia?


As mentioned before, during a natural disaster, there needs to be a centralised database and all agencies need to be able to share at least basic contact information to cross check databases. The victim database must be collected systematically, door to door, so that the correct demographics are known and the type of help needed can be assessed.

To do now

• Emergency responses must be planned for assuming all communication systems can be lost, with back‐up plans in place.
feul stations need an automatic transfer switch at minimum with a suitable input for a generator, preferably, installation of a generator.
• Essential assets such as radio repeaters, phone towers, water towers etc. need to have their own fire suppression system including a remote system and regular maintenance/ clearing and systems checks.
• Evacuations centres need to have sufficient fuel for generators and keep them maintained (Tomakin club twice ran out of fuel / generators broke down)
• Pharmacies, vets, medical clinics etc need automatic transfer switches and ideally back‐up generators.
• Residents should be able to stay on their property to defend but they must be prepared (combination of a course and essential check list: back up fire pumps, fuel, large water reserves, proper PPE, UHF radios).
In the event of a catasrphic forecast;
• feul reserves need to brought into the area.
• portable communication systems need to be brought into central hubs.
• Pre‐emptive feul rationing in remote areas prior to fire day. Feul stations must keep a proportion available for RFS, SES, police etc. (Batemans bay ran out of feul)
• Greater presence of police to evacuate tourists to lighten the load on small communities that may become isolated for an extended period of time