2023 ‘Disaster Preparedness’ Category Winner

Buloke Shire Council, VIC

The Paddock Run

The Initiative

Getting information to ‘where they are’ is the motivation behind The Paddock Run – a community driven initiative developed by the Buloke Shire Council supporting the harvest workforce and wider community during the October 2022 Victorian Flood event.

Floods impacted around 50 percent of agricultural area in Buloke, with homeowners and businesses impacted by flooded roads, cutting off access during what would normally be a busy trading period.

Council partnered with food businesses and grain receival sites to deliver flood support and assistance information to the paddock, truck, tractor, harvester, ute etc., using a less conventional, but more practical delivery method – via their stomachs.

When visiting participating food businesses for a grocery shop or to pick up a takeaway meal for a bite to eat, harvest workers and families were given a card with condensed key messages and contact numbers for specialist advisors, who could swiftly direct them to the help they needed such as mental health advice.

At grain receival sites, grain truck drivers were handed a Paddock Run card and also a packet of Kooka’s Country Cookies, a beloved, locally made treat, to share with colleagues in the paddock, after often waiting hours in a queue.

This initiative also served as an occupational violence intervention. Staff working at grain receival sites are often young women and have historically been subjected to verbal abuse when customer grain deliveries do not make the grade and may be financially penalised, or have the load not accepted.

In December 2022, a large fire near Donald resulted in farmers (Country Fire Authority volunteers) leaving their harvest to fight the fire until late in the day, and then having to rush back to the receival with a load of grain before closing. The Paddock Run’s provision of Kooka’s and key information was timely as the farmers were exhausted and hungry.

In all, 8000 cards, 1000 packets of Kooka’s, and more than 70 posters were distributed, saturating the shire population of 6178, and empowering the community to support each other.

The initiative strengthened the connection between Buloke’s food and harvest workforce, empowering them to support each other, and to be proactive as partners, investing in their futures.

Photo of two men with showing Kooka biscuits. Photo credit: Buloke Shire Council, VIC

About the Category

The ‘Disaster Preparedness’ category recognises local government initiatives which:

  • support communities to manage and adapt to climatic events by investing in disaster prevention, recovery and preparedness;
  • actively reduce risks from disasters and pandemics, particularly as they impact local communities;
  • ensure the Australian community is prepared to endure more frequent challenging events; and/or
  • implement programs and policies that ensure communities survive and prosper following these events.

Successful initiatives in this award category benefit communities by:

  • lowering the potential impacts of disasters and pandemics by analysing and managing the causes;
  • identifying risks and mapping capacity to respond to hazards;
  • protecting lives and livelihoods, communities and individuals; and/or
  • reducing damage or loss from disaster, particularly when it comes to public and private infrastructure.

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