Story by Cass Alexander, Waranga News
The meeting was sponsored by community engagement personnel from CFA Loddon Mallee Region, but was run by - and on behalf of - the residents of Rushworth.
Meeting Chairperson Cass Alexander welcomed the many local residents who had read an initial story in the Waranga News, seen one of' the posters displayed in many Rushworth shop windows or responded to an invitation handed to them by one of Rushworth's wonderfully-supportive shopkeepers.
He congratulated the town on its extraordinarily successful grassroots efforts in fire awareness over the past three years. before introducing the keynote speakers from Kerang and Swan Hill.
CFA Community Engagement Project Officer Colleen Scriven led viewers through a short presentation that explained the aims of the project, and the freedom that communities have to tailor their Fire Ready Communities efforts to address their specific local needs. She noted that Rushworth was one of three towns to pilot the inaugural program.
If successful here, the project would proceed even if the other towns failed to participate or were unable to deliver successful outcomes.
Mr Alexander then addressed the local interest already shown in the program, and noted that several organisations – including the Rushworth P-12 College, Rushworth District Lions Club. Rushworth Fire Brigade, Rushworth Community House and the Rushworth Historical Society – had already agreed to participate.
Rushworth P-12 College will involve students in several fire awareness activities, in addition to the current Year 9 fire training program run in conjunction with some nearby brigades.
Rushworth Lions will undertake a survey of people who are vulnerable should a future bushfire threaten the area, and will partner with other organisations to ensure that all associated risks are addressed.
The local Historical Society will conduct research into the history of fire in and around Rushworth to assist authorities with future strategic fire response planning.
Ensuing discussion at the meeting flagged important issues that residents would like the project to address.
- a Relief Centre / Neighbourhood Safer Place
- clearing of and fire-resistant plantings along railway easements
- fire-retardant garden designs to be promoted
- enforced maintenance of vacant blocks
- smoke alarm battery replacements for elderly and disabled residents
- identifying and helping vulnerable residents
- a water tank subsidy program for the town
- tree and mining register to assist with future
- planned burns on Crown and private land
- potential development of Crown lands
- creating effective partnerships with local government to improve fire preparedness
- free or low-cost green waste recycling
The meeting supported local participation in the Fire Ready Communities project, and around twenty people formed a core group to run the project.
The photos accompanying this story, taken by Cass Alexander, show Rushworth brigade participating in the town’s annual Easter parade.