In the past 13 months, I have had the most amazedly transformative experience, coordinating a project design to validate women’s experience of the 19/20 Black Summer Bushfires. During this period, I have listen, support, laughed and cried with women who’s lives have be traumatically changed since, what we understand to be an unprecedented fire season. I know the disastrous event well but from a different lens, my experience was as a volunteer RFS firefighter and Community Engagement facilitator during Black Summer.
Back to the project, during our journey together, I have seen these women’s transform, their confidence has grown, smiles and joy return, new friendships formed, invitation given and accepted, wider community connections formed, shared personal experiences along with, talk of preparing for the future disaster. Real evidence these women have moved forward toward building resilience in their new normal.
In March 2022, I facilitated a story sharing workshops with the women and they slowly but freely shared their lived experiences with other women in the group, this was a big step forward. During those workshops, I suggested recording their story in which I got a positive respond, another big step forward. The women were keen to share their experiences with other people and the wider community, especially with people who have also been affected by a natural disaster.
Great, now to get it happening and find the funds to produce their short films.
It was now March and my contract finished in June, I found the perfect videographer for the job, and we received funding, fantastic news. On the 30th of May, we started our first day filming on location at one of the women’s properties, from there we manage to fit in three more days of filming and story gathering, finishing the filming and photo audio stories on location the 7th of June 2022.
It was a tight timeline as I had booked the 15th of June for a women’s finale gathering and the screening of the short film. The videographer had to edit each women’s film and collate them into one short film in readiness for the screening, big job and I was pleased it was not my to do.
On the day, beside from my lack of technical knowledge and I forgot we need speakers for the film’s audio, lucky I had technical support, aside from this we had a successful screening. When the film ended, the room fell to silence, and we just looked at each other and no one wanted to break the moment with a sound.
The women’s stories are personal, moving, and powerful and I invite you to take the time to watch their stories of 19/20 Black Summer Bushfires.