Bellingen group wins the 2022 NSW Resilient Australia Local Government Award

Resilience NSW Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, Three Rivers Health Bellingen GP Dr Trevor Cheney, Bellingen Shire Council’s Community Resilience Coordinator Clare Danby, Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience, and Minister for Flood Recovery The Hon. Stephanie Cooke, and Bellingen Neighbourhood Care Network’s Kerry Pearse at the Resilience Awards presentation at Parliament House in Sydney.

BELLINGEN Shire’s Pandemic Response Group (PRG) has won the 2022 NSW Resilient Australia Local Government Award which recognises their work in protecting communities by raising disaster awareness, increasing preparedness and building resilience while celebrating community spirit, collaboration and innovative thinking.

The Bellingen Shire PRG is made up of representatives from council, general practice, hospitals, pharmacists, Chambers of Commerce, and community service providers who worked together with the community to deliver initiatives, actions and information to provide a local response to the global crisis.

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“This great achievement will place our Pandemic Response Group in the running for the 2022 Resilient Australia Local Government Award for national recognition, to be announced in November,” said Bellingen Shire Mayor Cr Steve Allan.

“This award is a true testament to our community action, and collective commitment to ensure as a community we are prepared, informed and supported to respond to the challenges we face.”

With a focus on key community areas of clinical support, community preparedness and resilience, community information, business support services and the maintenance of Council’s essential community services, the PRG operates as an umbrella group to effectively disseminate information, plan and coordinate initiatives and work with key agencies and organisations in the region.

The award recognised the work of the PRG, with an emphasis on its work through the Delta wave of the pandemic from June 2021 to January 2022, including the successful ‘Be Kind’ campaign.

During the pandemic the PRG met weekly coordinating messaging, facilitating programs, and supporting localised initiatives including: provision of up-to-date COVID19 information including the operating hours of the testing clinic, and interpretation and sharing of latest statistics through the Neighbourhood Care Network (NCN), coordination and advocacy with the Local Emergency Management Committee, Resilience NSW and Local Health District, group support and understanding of the vaccine roll out along with other supports.

Local residents and members of the PRG, Kerry Pearse and Dr Trevor Cheney, along with Council’s Community Resilience Coordinator, Clare Danby, received the award on Thursday 6 October at the awards ceremony held at Parliament House in Sydney.

The award was announced by Resilience NSW Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons and presented by The Hon.

Stephanie Cooke, the Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience, and Minister for Flood Recovery.

Through the coordinated efforts of the PRG a variety of organisations provided services to support the community throughout the pandemic including the Neighbourhood Care Network (NCN), who issued an SMS service to 1300-plus people providing up to date and synthesised data on COVID-19 which provided access to those in the community who do not have email.

The Chamber of Commerce facilitated online members meetings to talk about the challenges of restrictions on businesses and available grant support.

The ‘Be Kind’ Bellingen Shire campaign was designed and distributed to businesses throughout the Shire, which supported front line workers and promoted positive messaging at a time when front line staff were vulnerable.

The Be Kind Bellingen Shire film, created by Gethin Coles, was well received by the community providing a light-hearted view of Bellingen Shire during the COVID-19 pandemic.


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