Black Saturday survivors to visit Bundaberg

TWO women who survived the tragic Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria in 2009 are coming to Bundaberg to help and inspire local women affected by the floods.

Jemima Richards and Kate Riddell established the group Firefoxes after the bushfires and have teamed up with Westpac to host community sessions on Wednesday and Thursday.

Westpac Regional General Manager of Wide Bay Burnett Central Coast Lisa Kay encouraged anyone who was impacted by the floods to get involved.

"The Firefoxes are known for providing much-needed support to areas impacted by natural disasters but particularly for the women who are so often at the centre of those communities affected.

"Jemima and Kate are awesome role models in their local community displaying energy and resilience in the face of natural disaster. They are coming to Bundaberg to tell their story of inspiration in the hope that the women of Bundaberg will draw strength and insight from their first hand experience," Ms Kay said.

Ms Kay hosted Firefox on a vist to North Queensland after the cyclone in 2011, visiting Cardwell, Tully, Ingham and Townsville as part of a tour sponsored by Westpac.

"The feedback was outstanding and saw us sponsor a second visit to continue the great work the local women in these communities were doing to rebuild after the cyclone."

Attendees at the sessions will learn about what helped Jemima and Kate create a new "normal" for themselves and hear their perspectives on leadership and insights into community resilience.

"Resilience is the key, drawing on inner strength and using those skills developed over years that come naturally to some women has helped to create local networking groups tailored to support the direct needs of local communities.

"Experience has taught Jemima and Kate that when the water recedes and life resumes, it takes a long time for "normal" to return. In some instance, a new normal is created.

"When the spotlight fades and the news cameras move on, the town is still struggling to open the doors on businesses, sporting groups and Not for profit organisations that form the backbone of our society. Jemima and Kate help to identify where work needs to be done and inspire women to step forward and take the lead," Ms Kay said.

Westpac has donated over $70,000 through grant funds throughout the Wide Bay and Burnett areas, with the majority of these grants given to Bundaberg sports, recreation and not-for-profit groups.

"Money helps, but there is more work to do and providing inspirational speakers to our area is our next donation to the Bundaberg community."

The Firefoxes events will be held on Wednesday at 5.30pm and Thursday at 12pm at Brothers Sports Club.

There is no cost to attend and Westpac has partnered with QLD Remote Regional and Rural Womens Network to encourage women from remote and regional locations to come along and hear from Jemima and Kate.

People can RSVP to Sue Hawkins on 4155 4218 or email shawkins@westpac.com.au

Firefoxes community sessions

When: Wednesday 5:30pm - 7:30pm and Thursday 12noon - 2pm

Where: Brothers Sports Club, 130 Takalvan St, Bundaberg