The Mercy Community Families and Young People team in Toowoomba are joint winners of the Queensland 2022 Resilient Australia Community Award in collaboration with Toowoomba Regional Council and Australian Red Cross. The award celebrates Queenslanders who go above and beyond in their initiatives to build community resilience to disasters and emergencies around Australia.
“The team won this award due to the outstanding work done by the Multicultural Disaster Management Ambassadors Program which brings together local leaders from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities in the Toowoomba region,” says Fritha Radyk CEO of Mercy Community. These ambassadors were able to impart their knowledge and link with other emergency and support services in the collaborative effort to enhance their communities’ preparedness for a disaster event.
“Mercy Community is very proud of the work done by Jane Williamson, Mercy Community’s Coordinator for the Greater Downs Local Level Alliance (GDLLA) and Community Action for a Multicultural Society (CAMS) in Toowoomba, and her team including Multicultural Community Workers Nestor Kangudia and Mojgan Namdari for their work on this project,” adds Fritha.
The ambassadors received training and resources to build on their skills and provide them with the tools to promote and engage with disaster management across the stages of prevention, preparation, response, and recovery. Their involvement gave their communities a voice in the local disaster management arrangements to improve inclusivity and accessibility to information, warnings, support services and emergency functions.
With a higher-than-average percentage of persons born overseas, Toowoomba is a popular destination attracting skilled migrants as well as refugees. Mercy Community engaged with existing leaders of the various CALD communities and invited them to become participants in these programs.
Mercy Services’ Community Action for a Multicultural Society (CAMS) successfully applied for funding to commence a community engagement model for disaster management planning to further strengthen links with local CALD community leaders and identified networks, including local government, community organisations, diverse CALD community groups and residents.
CAMS invited Toowoomba Regional Council’s Disaster Management Team and the Australian Red Cross Emergency Services, to provide training, resources and specialist knowledge and skills to address the gaps in awareness and training needs of the ambassadors.
Jane Williamson and the Mercy Community team are clear that the real heroes in this initiative are the many ambassadors from the various communities who have participated in this programme.
“It is clear from this initiative that we can achieve more by bringing people together. Our strength lies in our diversity and when we embrace this diversity – we can achieve so much more. Mercy Community is thankful for this award and now look forward to participating in the National Awards later this year,” says Fritha.