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Nine local artists appointed as facilitators for the Western and Central Gippsland bushfire recovery program

Published: 8 May 2020

Creative Recovery Network has announced the appointment of nine artists to participate in a new bushfire recovery program designed to support community recovery and resilience building.

The program is in response to the Bunyip, Yinnar South and Walhalla District bushfires in Victoria in February/March 2019. It is a region-wide partnership between Creative Recovery Network and Baw Baw Shire, Cardinia Shire and Latrobe City Council with support from Lifeline Gippsland.

The program is designed to build capacity among local artists to develop recovery programs in disaster-affected communities, as well as foster a sense of communal recovery through the facilitation of unique creative projects.

Three artists from each participating local government area have been appointed to the role of Creative Recovery Artist Facilitator. They are: 

  • Gülsen Özer, Sue Jarvis and Janine Good for Cardinia Shire; 
  • Helen Timbury and Rebecca Vandyk for Baw Baw Shire; 
  • Jo Caminiti and Margie Mackay for Latrobe City; 
  • Jeremy Kasper who will work jointly across Baw Baw Shire and Latrobe City and; 
  • Michael Wilkins, a documentary film artist who will work across the three areas to capture the project development.

The facilitators will be mentored in specific requirements for working in trauma impacted communities and will receive training in Mental Health First Aid and an introduction to  Emergency Management.

Creative Recovery Network’s Amanda Gibson is lead mentor on the project, working closely with the facilitators throughout the process. Amanda is best-known for her work as project lead on ‘The Blacksmiths’ Tree’, a three-tonne stainless steel and copper gum tree sculpture created in response to Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.

On welcoming the newly appointed facilitators to the program, Creative Recovery Network Executive Officer, Scotia Monkivitch, said: “I am delighted to welcome our new artist facilitators and thank them for their commitment to the task ahead. In the face of enormous community challenges, it is essential that key recovery efforts come from within and are focused at a community level.

“I am confident that the training and knowledge-sharing we undertake will leave a lasting legacy across the region by equipping artists with the skills to develop and expand recovery efforts into the future.

"We look forward to supporting them in creating impactful programs that can provide a meaningful space for connectivity, social cohesion and shared-experience.”

Cardinia Shire Mayor Councillor Jeff Springfield congratulated the three artists appointed as Creative Artist Recovery Facilitators in Cardinia Shire. 

“The new Creative Artist Recovery Facilitators will play an important role in helping people in bushfire-affected areas to connect with each other, strengthen their connection to the community and create a lasting legacy to commemorate the Bunyip Complex Fires.”

The commencement of the program marks the first segment in a multi-phase process for the development of recovery projects in the region over the next two years.

In response to the current impact of COVID-19, the artists are engaging with their communities through the development of a postal project. This creative consultation process will enable residents to engage in a postal exchange to share stories of their experience, ideas and hopes for their community’s recovery and growth into the future.

Ms Monkivitch emphasises that while the focus of this program is the bushfires which occurred in Bunyip, Yinnar South and Walhalla District in February/March 2019, stimulus plans in response to the recent season’s disaster impacts are currently in progress in partnership with state and national agencies to implement similar models across a range of impacted communities.

This project has been supported by funding from the State Government of Victoria.

About Creative Recovery Network

The Creative Recovery Network is a national network of artists working with communities as they prepare, respond and recover from natural disasters, assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

The Creative Recovery Network demonstrates the value and importance of arts and culture in building disaster resilient communities from the ground up, so that arts and culture are given a ‘seat at the table’ when preparedness and response are being planned.