Emerald, population 7000, is in the Dandenong Ranges about 50km east of Melbourne, one of the 52 high risk areas in Victoria for bushfires. Emerald had many close calls during the 2009 bushfire season and the area is at an extreme risk during summer due to population density, limited roads and forest fuel loads.
Jon Faine’s ABC774 morning radio show came live from Emerald Community House (ECH) Hall on Bushfire Awareness Day in October 2009 and many people said during that morning that they didn’t know where to go or know anyone out of the area who could accommodate them should they need to evacuate.
Many had pets, businesses, transport issues, disabilities and children in school. Some felt unable to help themselves with another stressful summer bearing down on them.
With another summer bearing down on them some people were stressed almost to the point of paralysis. ECH wanted to alleviate this and empower people in high bushfire risk areas to make the very difficult choice to leave early on high fire risk days by providing them with the practical assistance of a list of suitable destinations.
With such information available people would be encouraged to be proactive during bushfire season, to stop thinking like a victim and start feeling in control and able to make personal safety decisions early. The Go List was born.
Clearly Victoria’s network of Community/Neighbourhood Houses could be useful in a similar event so they, plus caravan parks, accommodation properties, public and private facilities, have been added to the list.
Organisations that will be linked to the list include members of the Australian Veterinary Association to support pet hosting, RSPCA, CFA, DPI (Department of Primary Industries) and the Australian Horse Association to date.
Support for the project includes CFA, local MPs, DHS, VMIA Insurance, Cardinia Shire (where ECH is located), Community Houses of Cardinia Shire and ABC774.
The Go List idea was also floated to South Australia’s Community and Neighbourhood House Network (CAHN) in November 2009 and it was later announced, after their first Catastrophic day that Adelaide City Council was considering a destination list for their communities. Nance Huxton of ABC Adelaide helped to pass on ECH contact details for the Go List to the Adelaide Council Deputy Mayor and State MP Michael Wright, Emergency Services.
Got a spare bed or pet run? Check out The Go List.
What a really good idea.