Bushfire grants and Disaster Dashboard provide boost to Cessnock

Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, Mayor Jay Suvaal and Lower Hunter RFS Officers at Laguna Community Hall

Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, Cessnock City Mayor Jay Suvaal and Lower Hunter RFS firefighters from the Laguna, Wollombi, Bucketty and North Rothbury brigades.

Yesterday Cessnock City Council and the NSW Government announced the awarding of the Cessnock Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Grants to 18 local recipients and launched the new Cessnock Disaster Dashboard.

Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke said the NSW Government remained committed to helping communities recover and become ever more resilient to future disasters.

“Both the recovery grants and disaster dashboard are wonderful examples of community-led recovery in action and will make a real difference for the people of Cessnock,” Ms Cooke said.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Taylor Martin said through the Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience grants, 18 community groups from Wollombi, Laguna, Bucketty, Congewai Valley, North Rothbury, Branxton and Kurri Kurri had received funding for small scale projects.

“I want to commend Cessnock Council for partnering with the NSW Government on these projects which build capacity for future natural disasters and community resilience,” Mr Martin said.

Resilience NSW Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said implementing the learnings of the last few years would help to build resilience across the State.

“Resilience is all about learning through lived experiences, so we can come out the other side of disaster and disruption with the ability to better anticipate and understand what our vulnerabilities are and how we can mitigate them,” said Commissioner Fitzsimmons.

“We’re pleased to launch the Cessnock Disaster Dashboard, which will make critical information more accessible than ever before for communities in the region, helping to keep them informed and prepared.”

Developed by Resilience NSW, the Disaster Dashboard is a one-stop portal which offers real time information on everything from traffic and weather to floods and bushfires. It is a tool to assist communities during times of disaster.

Cessnock Mayor Jay Suvaal said the Black Summer bushfires saw the Cessnock community come together to meet an enormous challenge.

“In December 2019, our community came under threat from bushfires approaching from several fronts,” Mayor Suvaal said.

“For the entire month of December our volunteers, joined by brigades from Lower Hunter, Sydney and the North Coast, fought hard to stop the encroachment of these fires.”

“Volunteers put in long hours to protect their community. Neighbours helped neighbours to safeguard properties that came under threat. There were many heroic acts during this time and Cessnock’s strong community spirit was palpable.”

“These grants are to assist local communities with bushfire readiness, but also to build our social resilience so that we can continue to be a community where neighbours do help neighbours and our community’s capacity to work together to meet the challenges that natural disasters bring is strengthened.”

Resilience NSW has invested $500,000 in the Cessnock Local Government Area for recovery and resilience through grants, the employment of a Community Recovery Officer and other resilience activities. The local community and Council wish to specially acknowledge Melissa Boucher’s fantastic work in bringing the community together and realising these funding opportunities across so many community groups.

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