Stories from the Fireground Book wins National Award

The Shire of Harvey produced book “Stories from the Fireground” has been awarded the Special Judges Award at the EMPA Emergency Communication Awards which were announced at a conference in Melbourne on the 4th June 2018.  The Annual EMPA Awards for Excellence have been established to recognise those who have made a significant contribution to emergency communications in Australia and New Zealand.  Emergency Media & Public Affairs (EMPA) is the only representative organisation of emergency service and disaster communications practitioners in the world.

Shire President Tania Jackson accepted the award on behalf of the Community, at the Western Australian EMPA Conference held in Perth on Thursday 7th June.  Presenting the award to Cr Jackson was Anne Leadbeater OAM who said that it was a truly outstanding publication that really stood out amongst the other nominations. “Stories from the Fireground demonstrates the importance of using narrative to make sense of our lives and the things that happen and helps us to understand and learn about the amazing contribution and the resilience of the communities involved”.

‘These stories reflect the trauma, show some of the history that has now been lost and tell of the heroic efforts of emergency services, farmers and individuals who helped to protect lives, homes, livestock and property. To have such a record is important and to tell our story was essential” stated Cr Jackson when accepting the award.  We hope that others can learn from our experience.

 

COPIES OF THE BOOK AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE

For people wishing to purchase copies of the book they are now available for purchase from the following outlets:

  • Shire of Harvey Administration Offices (Located at 102 Uduc Road, Harvey and 7 Mulgara Street. Australind)
  • Harvey Visitor Centre – (1 James Stirling Pl, Harvey; 08 97291122)
  • Yarloop Community Resource Centre (21 Teesdale St, Yarloop; 08 97335600)
  • Waroona Historical Society (contact Deb Tyler on 0417 705 966 or Glenece Walmsley 9733 1687)

The cost of the book is $30 and all fees collected from the sale of the book will be put into trust to be used for a further reprint of the book at a later date.   The Shire of Harvey would like to acknowledge everyone who has contributed to this project. Sharing experiences such as this has not always been easy and we thank everyone who has taken the time to do this.    For further information or to order a copy of the book, please contact Maree Ellis on 9729 0323 or email mareee@harvey.wa.gov.au.

 

HISTORY OF THE BOOK

In September 2016, the Shire of Harvey commissioned the production of a book containing stories from community members who were impacted by the Waroona, Yarloop and Harvey January 2016 Bushfires.  The proposal to document the catastrophic event by capturing the stories and experiences of the people involved was well supported and all people living within the fire scar across the Shires of Harvey and Waroona were encouraged to take part.

Funding was sought from Lotterywest, Alcoa & Minderoo and a working group comprising of Shire Councillors, staff and members of the community was formed to oversee and manage the project.

An editor, Mr Ross Le Cras,  was employed to edit and compile the stories into a book and additional community members were then invited to join the group to assist with the collection of stories. These people spent many hours talking to people, recording their stories, transcribing and attending meetings. It was a very emotional time.

Some people chose to write their own stories or poetry and some contributed through photos and drawings.  Many people were involved, from the very young to the very old.

In all, 104 stories, poems, photographs and drawings were received from people describing their experience. These stories have been compiled into a 212 page book which was published in July 2017.

On Wednesday 26th July 2017, one hundred and eighty invited guests attended the official launch of the book “Stories from the Fireground” at the Harvey Recreation and Cultural Centre. During the evening, Shire President Cr Tania Jackson thanked everyone who had come forward with their recollections, experiences, photos and drawings; a total of 104 contributors. These firsthand accounts of this devastating event have now been woven into an historic book that captures the heroic efforts of so many people and the impact that it has had on their lives.  The project working group and story collectors who have attended many meetings and sat with people as they shared their stories were acknowledged for their hard work and dedication to the project. Cr Jackson thanked the sponsors Minderoo, Alcoa and Lotterywest, Editor Ross Le Cras and project coordinator Maree Ellis presenting them with a copy of the book.

Since the launch, the book has been presented at conferences, book events and workshops.  Copies have been posted to people in many parts of Australia and overseas. It has been the subject of many conversations and has helped with the healing and recovery process.  People are very proud of this book and grateful to have had the opportunity to tell their story.

We hope that others can learn from our experiences and thank the many people who were involved in the project.  Their contribution and commitment has been Amazing.