The Eden Community Access Centre’s long-term focus on disaster preparedness has been given a significant boost in the form of a $300,000 grant to fund a program designed to empower young people in Eden and surrounding villages to play an active community role in disaster reduction.
Manager Carina Severs said the two year Reduce the Risk program, funded by Resilience NSW, has employed a Youth Project Co-ordinator and a Youth Project Support Officer.
“The program will continue the work currently underway as part of our Disaster Preparedness Project but with a focus on disaster risk reduction,” Ms Severs said.
She said the Disaster Preparedness Project’s community engagement outreach has included connecting with a significant number of young people to understand their needs and to give them skills and support.
“For much of this year our project team, led by Dr Jodie Stewart, has been working closely with Eden Marine High School on a series of workshops that have sparked important conversations and learnings about disaster and resilience,” Ms Severs said.
“The Reduce the Risk program will build on youth-centred disaster risk reduction projects currently underway and planned for 2023 including continuing the high school workshops and incorporating education programs in local primary schools.
Over time the program will evolve to adapt and respond to themes and needs that will inevitably emerge from the projects.
“It’s important that this work continues. Our young people are our future leaders. We need to support and equip them with the skills for identifying, managing and reducing disaster risk to themselves and to their community,” Ms Severs said.
“This is all about continuing to identify community strengths, risks and vulnerabilities and reducing community exposure to the threats and shocks posed by natural hazards such as bushfires,” she said.
“It is easy for young people to feel overwhelmed and devastated when directly affected by disaster. This program will continue the work we have started to give young people the confidence and skills to lead disaster reduction practices, including how to confidently communicate the risk to others.
“The project will help build a more resilient, aware and prepared generation ready to face the next disaster when it happens.
“Our aim is to build a greater sense of community connectedness for young people who can often feel reluctant to speak up and who feel, at times, under-valued for their perspectives because of their age and inexperience.”
Ms Severs said the Eden Community Access Centre is aiming to achieve outcomes such as youth-led disaster risk reduction education programs in local schools, local youth-centred disaster risk reduction strategies that can help to inform all levels of government, and programs that empower young people to be leaders in risk reduction for their communities.
She said meanwhile the Disaster Preparedness project is now entering its final stages following several months of community engagement including a series of Community Table Talks or small group discussions.
“Consistent themes and ideas have emerged from those discussions. Our next step is to hold a community forum toward the end of this year to build on those ideas to create practical preparedness and resilience projects that will live on in the community beyond this project.”
Funding for the Reduce the Risk program has been awarded through the NSW Government’s Resilience NSW Grant Application for Local & Regional Risk Reduction stream – Pathway 1.
For further information about the Disaster Preparedness Project visit HERE.
Image: Mumbulla Foundation