An hour south of Coffs Harbour sits the Nambucca Valley, a sparsely populated part of New South Wales that features plenty of natural beauty. However, Nambucca remains one of the more disadvantaged areas in the country when it comes to socio-economic opportunity. This was compounded in November of 2019, when the Kian Road bushfire swept through. The fire burnt 20% of the physical area of the Shire, destroying 62 homes and affecting hundreds in the community.
The clean up has been a long and arduous process, and one that shows no signs of being finished any time soon. Locals are still living in tents, caravans, sheds, and partially-damaged homes that are not only unsecure — they’re unsafe. The community decided to try to expand beyond the government-appointed support, contacting businesses and NGOs to see what they could do to help.
One such local volunteer, Kathleen Crawley, discovered the Minderoo Foundation’s innovative Fire Fund Recovery Pods. The Minderoo Foundation were able to provide pods for the community, but Kathleen wanted to look to the long-term and think beyond temporary solutions. She applied for the Reece Grant to help.
Many of the properties affected by the fire had their septic systems completely burnt out. With the help of the Reece Grant, Kathleen and her team of volunteers have the resources to install new piping and septic connections. These connections will work not just for the Minderoo Recovery Pods, but also the new homes that the residents are hoping to build in the coming months. These works are an investment in the long term, says Kathleen — “we’re providing these systems to those in the most financial difficulty, to help them rebuild.”
The required administration with the local council remains ongoing, with work only now getting underway. However, Kathleen says the simple news these families will have proper septic systems has been life-changing. “Having this in place, it gives people the space to focus on the bigger picture of planning and rebuilding.”