Last summer, Australia experienced an unprecedented fire season. Communities were devastated and wildlife populations suffered as millions of hectares of our country burned.
In this extraordinary situation, for weeks on end, community radio stations, from 2EARFM Moruya in NSW to 3MGB Mallacoota in Victoria, provided critical information to help people in their communities make decisions that would affect their lives.
At the crisis unfolded, nearly 80 community radio stations were broadcasting in fire-affected areas and, in many cases, staffed by a handful of volunteers. During the bushfires, when local information needs were critical and constantly changing, they faced extreme pressure and responsibility.
Now, in the aftermath, it is clear volunteers at these stations experienced significant trauma. The Community Broadcasting Foundation wants to support these community broadcasters in managing the ongoing impact of that trauma and build resilience for the future.
What are we doing about it
The Community Broadcasting Foundation, in partnership with the DART Centre for Journalism & Trauma (Asia Pacific) wants to deliver a trauma support and resilience program for community broadcasters and journalists impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires.
Specifically tailored for broadcasters and journalists working in community radio, this program is the first of its kind in the Australian community broadcasting sector, the program will build expertise and resilience in communities to deal with traumatic events in their own communities.
Starting with stations directly affected, specialists from the DART Centre will provide face-to-face training to community broadcasters and station management, conducted as a one-day in-community workshop for approximately 20 participants with two specialist DART trainers to facilitate.
The initial participating stations include EAR FM Moruya (NSW), Braidwood FM (NSW), 3REG FM Bairnsdale (VIC) and 3MGB Mallacoota (VIC). The course will be delivered across two locations in Moruya and Mallacoota reaching an expected total of 40 volunteer broadcasters and station management.
Included in the project will be an evaluation with the view to scaling up and building an annual offering for the community broadcasting sector. The ongoing offering would support resilience in high-impact community stations as they may be required to respond in future to events of fire, flood or cyclone.
COVID-19 impact update
In the context of COVID-19 protocols, the CBF and the Dart Centre are currently developing alternate online delivery options for this project. The uncertainty and impact of COVID on the community broadcasting sector has further highlighted the need for this project as a matter of urgency for fire-affected communities and delivery options under these circumstances will likely include online training and resource delivery as opposed to in-community workshops.