Rebuilding workshops a success

Forest and Wood Products Australia hosted a 'Resilience, Recovery and Rebuilding' workshop in Bega earlier this month to provide advice, information and support to people affected by the recent bushfires.

FWPA is a not-for-profit company providing integrated research and development services to the Australian forest and wood products industry and supports research and development promoting internationally competitive and environmentally sustainable practices.

The half-day workshops were also held in Bairnsdale and Tumbarumba and were hosted by TV personality, author, cook and craftsperson Tonia Todman, who shared her experience of losing her Kyneton home and home-based business to fire.

"The most interesting part about these seminars for me is that they were so practical and timely," Ms Todman said.

"The speakers covered the emotions of loss, looking after pets and property and the requirements for rebuilding with the environment in mind."

A representatives from Bega RFS spoke about bushfire preparation for property and pets, while Nigel Bell, an architect specialising in designing for BAL (bushfire attack level) rated sites discussed some of the challenges of designing to meet the Australian bushfire standard.

Mr Bell explained that very few homes currently meet the standard as they were built before its introduction in March 2009.

"Generally, about 50 per cent of people have heard about proper preparation for bushfire and then only about 10 per cent have prepared thoroughly. Events like this are a great opportunity to address this gap," said John Upton, CFA community liaison and bushfire engagement officer.

Other speakers included psychologists, who shared strategies for coping with disastrous events and managing their longer-term affects.

A representative from Planet Ark talked about biophilic (or nature-inspired) design and how it can promote wellbeing while contributing to environmental sustainability.

"We are grateful for the opportunity to assist communities affected by bushfires," said Eileen Newbury, national marketing and communications manager of FWPA.

"The long-term sustainable rebuilding of appropriate infrastructure and housing to enable the community to become fully functional as quickly as possible is vital."

"Lowering future disaster risk by rebuilding to the bushfire standard and providing information and resources to do this will benefit rural and regional individuals, families and communities."

A publication providing concise explanations of each Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) and where and how timber may be used at each level is available online and tinyurl.com/WSBALbuild