Country Fire Authority, Karen community combine for fire awareness initiative

THE Nhill community and the Country Fire Authority have combined for a Victorian-first initiative to teach migrant communities about fires.

Nhill Learning Centre will work with the town’s Karen residents, the authority and The University of Adelaide to produce a video explaining total fire bans and fire danger periods, to ensure migrants from non-English-speaking backgrounds understand the laws that apply.

Learning centre executive officer Annette Creek said Karen residents would be involved in the writing and filming stages, and would act in the film with Nhill Fire Brigade members.

“The project will kick off this week with a community meeting to write the script for the project,” she said.

“Filming will happen in March or April, with the video to be produced in May.

“This project will, in a very practical way, bring together the community and local services, helping to build long-lasting connections while providing essential training for the community at large.”

Mrs Creek said the project came about through the authority’s Summer Local Initiatives grant program.

“We partnered with a fellow at the university and the Karen community in Nhill to apply for the grant,” she said.

“There has been some confusion among the community as to what they can and can’t do on fire ban days.

“The grant program is very much about empowering communities to do what is helpful for them, and our Karen community chose that topic.

“We are hoping the video will be used statewide to explain fire bans to Karen communities across Victoria.”

The authority’s program design and community development worker Angela Cook said understanding fire restrictions could be challenging even for those who spoke English as their first language.

“Imagine when your English proficiency is low, you are unfamiliar with the environment and don't understand the risk of bushfires,” she said. “How would you understand fire restrictions and interpret a total fire ban?

“This is not CFA developing a film for the Karen community telling them what to do and what they need to know. On the contrary, this will be the two groups working in partnership to develop something that's meaningful and owned locally by the community.”

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