Hope for future rises from ashes of bushfire devastation

A striking interactive community-informed exhibit designed by Griffith University researchers has shared extraordinary tales of survival and highlighted areas for improvement during bushfire emergencies.

Griffith University with community stakeholders, including strategic partner Binna Burra Lodge, collaborated to share first-hand accounts of survival and recovery for the Bushfire Pavilion exhibit.

Professor Karine Dupre and National Bushfire Recovery Agency Coordinator APM OAM Andrew Colvin.

The historic lodge and pioneer cabins at Binna Burra were destroyed in the beginning stages of the six months of ‘Black Summer’ bushfires across Australia in 2019/2020.

The Bushfire Pavilion, built at Griffith University by a team of experts in architecture and engineering, is the first new stand-alone building to be erected at Binna Burra since the 2019 bushfires.

The 7.5m-long exhibit was constructed in collaboration with Queensland’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) forest products innovation team. The building’s black exterior represents the fire that ravaged the area, while within a vibrant display of community stories and images provide a sense of resilience and hope.

Research lead ProfessorKarineDupre from the Griffith Institute for Tourism said key revelations emerged during community consultations, including the role of social media to support the community during bushfire emergencies and the lack of preparedness for mental health recovery.

“Importance of network in community is key; without it, the resilience of the community and its recovery are severely impacted,” she said.

“Many people appreciated the small gestures, such as hugs, food, donations, given by strangers in the middle of the crisis. Yet onlylong-termsupport andastrong network can help healing and recovery, both for people and their businesses.

“Also,residents might be well prepared tangibly (their houses, property, livestock), but they were underprepared mentally. They had no expectation for how they would cope during and after the bushfire or who they should contact for that support.”

ProfessorDupre said the community’s stories and insights would help develop guidelines to inform policy and decision-making in the hope that future bushfires of this scale would be prevented.

“These shared memories will inform four community workshops to discuss best practices, opportunities and recommendations for recovery to strengthen the existing resilience in the Scenic Rim community,she said.

National Bushfire Recovery Agency Coordinator APM OAM Andrew Colvin attended the Bushfire Pavilion unveiling, alongside project collaborators from DAF, Mount Barney Lodge and Scenic Rim Regional Council.

The National Bushfire Recovery Agency, GriffithUniversityand Binna Burra Lodgerepresentthe PALs for Resiliencetheme behind the launch Partnerships, Alliances and Linkages.

Steve Noakes, Chairperson of Binna Burra Lodge said the BushfirePavilionwas another significant part of the expanding range of activities under the MOU between Binna Burra Lodge and Griffith University.

Since it was founded in the early 1930s, Binna Burra has always been a ‘living laboratory’ for all types of biological, social and physical science education and research and that tradition is now increasing under our strengthening relationship with many disciplines across Griffith University,he said.