Rockhampton students learn to be disaster ready

Throwing spears, making fires, building shelters and making ropes are not your usual school classroom activities.

But these unique yet practical life skills are being taught to a group of Rockhampton high school students to help them be prepared for natural disasters.

Carinity Education Rockhampton students learned these vital survival skills – and developed their teamwork – at their school as part of the Community Recovery Challenge.


Malachi Conway of Rocky Instincts shows bush tools to Carinity Education Rockhampton students.
Malachi Conway of Rocky Instincts shows bush tools to Carinity Education Rockhampton students.

The skills activities were facilitated by Rocky Instincts, which teaches the traditional skills and knowledge of our ancestors including basic fire-making skills and animal trapping.

Rocky Instincts Director Malachi Conway says the important skills he teaches can help people survive during and after natural disasters such as cyclones and bushfires.

“The current wet weather disaster along Australia’s east coast has highlighted how quickly and ruthlessly natural disasters can affect us all at short notice,” Malachi says.

“Rocky Instincts is all about supporting people in the community to be pro-active and prepare for potential dangers and disasters as well as unforeseen situations such as a global pandemic.”

Carinity Education Rockhampton Principal Lyn Harland says the unique school event, for students from Years 10 to 12, was the final item of the year-long Community Recovery Challenge program.

The Community Recovery Challenge was conceived by the school to help people living in the Livingstone Shire to become more resilient both before and after natural disasters.

“The Livingstone community has suffered considerable losses due to cyclone and bushfires and the region has since been in a constant state of disaster recovery,” Lyn explains.

“After devastating natural disasters communities find their strength in banding together and becoming one in support of each other and their community.

“An integral part of the healing process is dealing with the grief and loss to build resilience, which the Community Recovery Challenge is centred around.”


A Carinity Education Rockhampton student celebrates after making a fire the traditional way.
A Carinity Education Rockhampton student celebrates after making a fire the traditional way.

The Community Recovery Challenge is an initiative of Carinity Education Rockhampton, which received $140,000 in grants funding for activities to build community capacity and resilience.

Activities have ranged from yoga and wellness classes, community art projects, and training a therapy dog, to mental health education, suicide prevention activities, and songwriting workshops for people overcoming adversity.

Lyn says the Community Recovery Challenge has helped to connect people and local groups within the Livingstone district and build community spirit across the shire and in places like Yeppoon, Keppel Sands, Byfield, Glenlee, The Caves, Cawarral and Emu Park.

“The Community Recovery Challenge has demonstrated what people can achieve when working collaboratively within their community,” Lyn says.

“Over the past 12 months the project has provided opportunities to show that adversity can be overcome – and that it only makes us stronger when we all work together.”

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