• Tony Bosworth

Empowering communities initiative helps fund Bilpin district’s morale-boosting Our Stories video

Updated: Jul 30, 2021

We all know Bilpin region was hard hit by the 2019-20 bushfires but a great initiative by locals that brought people together and showcased their resilience through a really well produced video successfully gained funding through the federal government’s Empowering our Community program.

The extended drought and scorching summer leading to the 2019 Christmas bushfires, provided a rare chance to record how the community coped with the life-changing events.

Bilpin – Our Stories was a unique opportunity for people to engage with one another around a shared experience and they did this with enthusiasm, joy, and a cathartic release of pent-up anxiety, according to Helen Foulis who experienced the loss of her house at Tutti Fruitti.

“I was dreading the coming of Christmas where everyone is supposed to be happy and all I could think of was the remains of Clay’s (Helen’s Stepson) mini jeep after the fire. That was his 2019 Christmas present,” said Helen.

"So when I went to the anniversary afternoon tea I was down. But after we sang and danced, I felt great – it was so cathartic - all that pent up anxiety I had been holding onto was gone! And I love watching the video, it cheers me up."

The aim of the project was to foster the new and deep neighbourly support networks that were forged in the dry and heat defending local properties, homes and livestock from both drought and fire.

So, when the next disaster comes, there is a neighbour over the paddock or down the road people can talk to.

Living in rural communities requires resilience and Bilpin - Our Stories provides a glimpse of the strength, toughness, flexibility and the sheer spirit of individuals and the community.

The video project was put together by Kooryn Sheaves, Jochen Spencer, and with the involvement of Bilpin region residents.

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