Fire & Flood Resilience08 May 2023

Volunteers support the Millgrove community to be disaster ready

From the work undertaken through the community’s resilience journey, Millgrove has become a lighthouse of hope for other at-risk communities who may be just starting their own resilience journey

President of the Millgrove Residents Action Group (MRAG), Maureen Halit, helps to make the community more resilient during the Australian Resilience Corps Millgrove Musters
President of the Millgrove Residents Action Group (MRAG), Maureen Halit, helps to make the community more resilient during the Australian Resilience Corps Millgrove Musters. Photo Credit: Clare Alexander.

Volunteers from the Australian Resilience Corps (The Corps) were deployed to one of the country’s most disaster-prone communities – Millgrove, Victoria – to help residents prepare for extreme fire risk next summer , following back-to-back wet seasons.

Established in 2021 by Minderoo Foundation and founding partner NRMA Insurance, The Corps is a national volunteer network that connects volunteers to communities like Millgrove that are at an economic disadvantage and at high risk of exposure to fire and or flood, with the goal of supporting residents by future proofing their surroundings to natural threats.

Volunteers worked with Connecting Communities Australia to undertake several tasks including clearing overgrowth, removing fuel loads around critical infrastructure, such as the bridge into Millgrove, as well as learning how to support communities with their resilience planning and hazard identification.

President of the Millgrove Residents Action Group (MRAG) Maureen Halit said the town is one of the most fire prone areas in Victoria, possibly Australia. “If we get the major fires, we are going to be in big trouble and we need to be prepared,” she said.

“Having these volunteers come into the community is a huge opportunity to lift our resilience and place us in a strong position if a fire or flood were to occur. People underestimate the dangers of this beautiful region –currently, we’re one bad season away from potential disaster.”

The muster events are part of a project to support the Millgrove community with lifting their resilience to natural hazards currently being undertaken by Minderoo Foundation, Millgrove Residents Action Group, ResilientCo and the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience. Community members identified their priorities to lift resilience which range from undertaking preparedness activities to de-risking critical infrastructure and bringing the community closer together.

Areas around Victoria’s Yarra River were chosen for volunteers to assist with preparedness activities, due to the flood and fire risk to Millgrove.

Activities that were undertaken by volunteers through The Corps include:

  • Removing fuel load in the risk of bushfires
  • Clearing areas away from drains to ensure that in the event of heavy rains, water can run and reduce flooding exposure causing erosion along riverbanks
  • Creating a clear and wider footpath (to provide for wheelchair accessibility) and laying several tonnes of gravel
  • Clearing excessive overgrowth
  • Removing noxious weeds that are inhibiting natives from flourishing

Minderoo Foundation’s Resilient Communities Mission Lead Matthew Chesnais said that having an at-risk community like Millgrove develop their own resilience plan is a positive step forward in laying the groundwork to reach parity with Australia’s most resilient communities, but more work is needed on a national level to rally volunteers.

“We know around 78 per cent of companies have a volunteering program, providing over one million hours per year – much of this just isn’t being accessed. We need to tap into the over 860,000 hours per year that employees aren’t taking advantage of in order to make Australia more prepared and more resilient,” added Mr Chesnais.

The Corps is calling on all of the community across Australia – private citizens and businesses alike – to join the volunteer network and help reduce the harm caused by fire and floods before they happen.

Sign up to the Australian Resilience Corps today:

Minderoo Foundation
by Minderoo Foundation

Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.

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