One year on
The Hills Creative Alliance was set up in June 2021 by creative artists affected by the storm to see how we could support community recovery. Since then we have been funded by Yarra Ranges Council, Regional Arts Victoria and the Parish of St Michaels, with support from Burrinja and Olinda Community House. Now with many hours of volunteer input we have started building a network of other community groups and services.
With support from YRC we were able to hold a Community Art Exhibition in Karwarra Garden, entitled 'Reflection of the Storm’ which is currently still open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and we hope to continue with ‘Recovery from the Storm’ and 'Renewal after the Storm’ working with the Friends of Karwarra Garden. The funds from Regional Arts Victoria will help us create a website to hold and share these wonderful creative pieces and their stories. We also started working on a project to enable people to have support to tell their stories of the storm, this then became ‘Community Focus Fridays’ hosted by Olinda Community House and now on Zoom. We support folks who are still waiting for their home to be rebuilt or repaired all this time after the storm destroyed so much property, and we invite speakers each week, with a current focus on creating the ‘Hills Community Action Group’ to bring the services and local groups together from Tremont to Kalorama, to develop resilience planning for future disasters along the spine of Mount Dandenong. It is unacceptable that we have had to face another winter of storms without an emergency action plan in place, and feel grateful to be included now along with other YR community groups who have reached out to support us.
We also brought together a range of local community groups to put on the Hills Regrowth and Renewal Festival in July 2022 which was very successful and which will now become an annual event. This was funded by YRC with a community grant. We have now applied for funds from EMV to get the necessary actions done to develop community resilience, and to YRC for funds to collect and archive the stories of the storm and its aftermath, so that others can understand exactly what happened so that the community can plan and prepare better for future challenges.
Liz Millman: Secretary Hills Creative Alliance