The action research process that informed the report was initially made possible through CatholicCare Bushfire Community Recovery Service, with the support and involvement of service Manager, Janet Cribbes. The study began two and half years into the community recovery process after the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria. The study area covered the five most-impacted shires; Nillumbik, Murrindindi, Yarra Ranges, Mitchell and Whittlesea which include the severely-affected townships and settlements of Strathewen, St. Andrews, Steele’s Creek, Humevale, Kinglake West, Kinglake, Castella, Toolangi, Wandong, Clonbinane, Flowerdale and Marysville. Participants were drawn from three sectors – Council Officers and Managers; Community Service Workers and Managers; and Community Recovery Committee Representatives and Chairpersons.
The learnings from the study emphasise the need for systemic change in Emergency Management and Disaster Preparedness and Community and Small Business Recovery.
The challenge of dealing with long term trauma-impacted Organisations and Communities was another theme raised in the report. Highlighted throughout are what the authors call disaster dynamics – impacts operating across all scales – from the emotional and personal, through households and communities, and local economies and community decision-making, to landscapes and environments, and to policy and government.