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Community recovery field day gathers Lower Creek community and services

Armidale Regional Council partnered with Kempsey Shire Council and New England Weeds Authority to gather community members and service providers at a recovery field day at Lower Creek in the Upper Macleay Valley.

Council’s Community Recovery Officer Jane Schmude coordinated the March 20 event with funding support from NSW Reconstruction Authority, as part of a broader initiative to build networks that strengthen communities’ ability to manage and recover from natural hazards that cause disasters for communities.

“The impact of fires, flooding and other significant natural events includes but also goes beyond the physical damage to infrastructure,” Mrs Schmude said.

“By identifying and establishing support networks, we aim to assist the future resilience of individuals and communities when they are faced with natural hazards that cause disasters for communities, and assist their subsequent recovery.”

The Kempsey-Armidale Road is an important corridor which links Armidale and the coast. The road supports the local community and also agriculture and tourism industries in both the Armidale and Kempsey regions.

The road was severely damaged by bushfires at the end of 2019 and then subsequent flooding in 2020 and 2022. It is currently closed to the public between Big Hill and Blackbird Flat. Early works have been undertaken in several locations and Armidale Regional Council is now working to prepare for the main recovery works to commence.

“To support Lower Creek farmers, the field day included a presentation from special guest Warren Davies, ‘The Unbreakable Farmer’,” said Mrs Schmude.

“He told his story of ‘Resilience, Persistence and Determination’ whilst facing the harsh reality of being a farmer dealing with high interest rates, low commodity prices, floods and drought.”

Locals at the field day were entertained by a ‘Paws Up’ working dog display by BackTrack Youth Works. BackTrack have supported the Lower Creek community after the disasters through their voluntary work, including rebuilding fences after bushfires.

“It was great that ShoreTrack, BackTrack’s partner at the coast, also brought their young people to Blackbird Flat - to connect with BackTrack youth and learn more about the resilience of the communities in the Upper Macleay.

“The field day also included information stalls about weed management with a focus on Tropical Soda Apple management, and catering was generously supplied by the Rapid Relief Team from Armidale.”

Service organisations at the event included NSW Health Disaster Recovery from Hunter New England and Mid North Coast, Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP), New England Family Support, The Healthy Communities Foundation and NSW SES.

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