Get trained to support your community in disasters

ABOVE: CCR facilitators Dr Jean Renouf and Ella Rose Goninan.

A new network of more than 100 volunteers across the Northern Rivers will help with critical aspects of community building and disaster resilience.

The volunteers will be part of the Community Carers and Responders network.

They will support the community with disaster resilience and community wellbeing as well as food, water, energy and housing security.

They will be trained in first aid and psychological first aid.

The training is free and you could be one of those to join the Community Carers and Responders Network.

The idea for the network came after the 2020 Royal Commission in Natural Disasters Arrangements and the 2020 NSW Bushfire Inquiry identified the need for the community to be better integrated into the disaster management cycle, including prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.

CCR training facilitator Jean Renouf spent years working in international aid, often in war zones, responding to disasters. He is a firefighter, the co-chair of Resilient Byron and he lectures on community resilience at Southern Cross University.

“In the Northern Rivers, the CSIRO and the BOM expect an increase of the average temperature in all seasons, meaning hotter days and longer warm spells; an increased intensity of extreme daily rainfall events; a harsher fire-generating climate; and a significant rise in sea levels, all of which is made worse by our changing climate,” Dr Renouf said.

Climate change “will affect every aspect of our society, from access to basic essentials such as water, food, shelter and health to more complex aspects such as energy production, infrastructures, transport and the economy as well as the arts, culture and education”.

Communities have also had to deal with covid, a housing crisis, the epidemic of loneliness, the rising inequality, the social fragmentation of our communities, plastic pollution and more, Dr Renouf said.

CCR training co-facilitator Ella Rose Goninan said the community carers and responders will be there to help their community by creating an atmosphere of caring for each other and helping prepare for future disasters.

“CCRs will help build the resilience of their community, but how this looks will vary from one community to another,” Ms Goninan said.

“Some communities will need support in preparing for bushfires; others to create social cohesion within the community; others may help to improve communications within a neighbourhood or with disaster agencies; others may need to improve their food security (perhaps by creating a community food garden or an online food exchange group).

“The role of the CCR will vary depending on the community, including its risks and vulnerabilities, as well as the CCR’s own interests and availability.”

Applications to become a community carer and responder close on February 28.

The project has support from the Australian Red Cross, the RFS, FRNSW, SES, police, ambulance, community organisations and councils.

Dates for Kyogle are March 25, June 25 and September 23.

Dates for Richmond Valley are March 26, June 24 and September 24.

First Aid training (8 hours) is scheduled for October and the Psychological First Aid training (4 hours) for November. This will be available to those who complete the CCR training.

You can apply here or call Claire on 0478 785 191.

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