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Community get together and talk bush fire recovery


Cessnock City Council is proud to have hosted the first Bush Fire Recovery Community Forum in the Cessnock Local Government Area (LGA) recently at Laguna Community Hall.

Facilitated by Melissa Boucher, Council’s recently appointed Community Recovery Officer, and organised with assistance from the Wollombi Valley Progress Association (WVPA), the meeting supplied valuable information about grants and support to bush fire affected residents and community groups.

The meeting also served as a forum for attendees to share their needs around bush fire and disaster preparedness and recovery.

Approximately 25 community members representing 14 community groups from Bucketty, Laguna, Wollombi and Payne’s Crossing were in attendance as well as representatives from Resilience NSW and Service NSW.

Melissa Boucher said the meeting was an important opportunity for residents to get assistance and voice their concerns.

“This first forum has served to provide those most heavily impacted during our last bush fire season with the chance to share their ideas around preparedness and recovery,” she said.

“Following the meeting we received extremely positive feedback about the clear objectives set by Council and we’re looking forward to establishing a working group for interested residents who will assist us in preparing as a community.”

Attendees described the forum as a good first step to helping the community be more prepared. “It was such a welcome and well-run meeting. We were made aware of the many support initiatives in place locally to help rebuild and reconnect our fire affected Wollombi Valley,” said Paynes Crossing resident, Glyn Patrick.

President of the WVPA, Simone Smith, said the meeting was an excellent opportunity for representatives from many local community groups to contribute their feedback.

“The meeting provided a broad insight into the problems faced locally during last year's fire emergency, and highlighted the importance of the community consultation process, so that government funding and assistance can be directed to where it’s most needed at a local level,” she said.

Future meetings are being planned for the Pokolbin and Bucketty areas. Community groups interested in meeting with Melissa are encouraged to contact her on (02) 4993 4257.

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