Project Resilience ‘Big Map’ Exercise in Willawarrin NSW

Disaster Relief Australia | April 2022

On Friday 22 April, Disaster Relief Australia led and managed the first Project Resilience “Big Map” exercise for the community of Willawarrin, NSW.

With disasters becoming both more frequent and more intense, there is a significant disconnect between communities striving to prepare for disasters and the local resources to do so. Disaster Relief Australia’s ‘Project Resilience’, in collaboration with the Minderoo Resilient Communities Initiative, aims to assist at least 34 vulnerable Australian communities to be more resilient to natural hazards by 2025.

Over the past three years, Willawarrin has been devastated by fire and flood. Willawarrin was chosen for this exercise because their community was passionate about building their local resilience plan, but didn’t yet have the manpower, technology, or actionable information, to deliver it.

The ‘big map’ scenario model and disaster planning workshop helps to overlay the community’s vital local knowledge with our aerial imagery and data mapping technology, empowering the community and its leaders to proactively reduce disaster risk and identify local solutions to help improve resilience over time.

The exercise brought up some great conversations, surrounding:

  • Flood gauge infrastructure
  • Flood classifications
  • Mobility corridors for community evacuations
  • Bushfire Mitigation
  • Cultural burning
  • Vegetation management
  • DRA service projects – and so much more!

Rob Edwards a Recovery Officer at the Department of Primary Industries stated “I really enjoyed the format of having the large map, it brought things into perspective, and you could get a clear picture in your mind about the issues and what resources are needed for the land. It was good; I loved the presentation and loved the flow of the conversation”.

Furthermore, a community member gave feedback stating, “The big floor map was amazing. Giving everyone an opportunity to speak Ideas to work together & always ask for help”.

The community are now beginning to build their own community resilience group. The NSW Disaster Relief Team will be working very closely with the community group to organise and provide resources for crucial service projects identified during our discussions.

DRA wish to extend a sincere thank you to Kempsey Shire Council, NSW Rural Fire Service, Vinnies, the Thungatti Aboriginal Land Council and most importantly the Willawarrin community.

Learn more about Project Resilience.