National
bushfire
response

Bushfire rebuild, Blue Mountains, NSW | ECOdesign Architects | Photographer: Nigel Bell

National bushfire response

Bushfire response

If we have not been directly affected by one of the many bushfires ravaging our country, we are sure to have a connection to people who have been. We thank those dedicated volunteers and emergency services who have been working tirelessly over the past weeks and continue to battle these fires daily and give support to those in need.

Right around Australia, communities are mobilising, providing assistance in every possible way to family, to friends and to complete strangers. The stories of kindness, compassion and generosity we’ve witnessed or seen in the media show the Australian spirit is strong, providing a source of hope for many facing the darkest and most difficult of times in recent memory.

At times like these, we all want to know what we can do to be useful. We know that many members are already helping where they can in many different ways, and we too will do our part. We’re doing that in a number of ways.

Firstly, in recognition of the scale and severity of these unprecedented events, we’ve created this page, focusing on our ongoing response to the bushfire crisis. This features the immediate support we’re providing, together with subsequent relief projects and volunteering initiatives we’ll be developing in 2020 as we work to support the rebuilding of communities.

We also encourage you to visit our new Architects Assist site where members can register their interest in supporting the overall bushfires response effort. You will also be noted on our members map as we plan for the eventual deployment of architectural, design and building resources in collaboration with other professional and regulatory bodies.

This is not a short-term crisis, and we need the support of the architectural profession to support us as we face this crisis together. When the fires clear, we will need to not only replace what has been lost, but build back better.

Photographer: Catherine Baker

Free Acumen Notes and Resources

Acumen Practice Notes and resources

We’re providing all architects, regardless of membership, full unrestricted access to the following practice notes from our Acumen platform, and other resources which may be of assistance at this time.

Designing to heal: post-disaster rebuilding to assist community recovery

This paper outlines the significance of disasters and post-disaster recovery, highlights the need of designers to harness community skills, emphasises survivor participation in the planning and realisation of their post-disaster environment, and suggests some characteristics of design that may smooth the path to recovery.

Designing to heal: post-disaster rebuilding to assist community recovery – designing a process and product for recovery

This paper outlines the significance of disasters and post-disaster recovery, highlights the need of designers to harness community skills, emphasises survivor participation in the planning and realisation of their post-disaster environment, and suggests some characteristics of design that may smooth the path to recovery.

This Note outlines the impact of climate change on bushfire conditions in Australia and the ensuing regulatory imperatives for planning and construction within bushfire prone areas. It provides an overview of bushfire attack, the Fire Danger Index, the regulatory framework plus development issues and concerns currently applicable to states and territories.

Bushfire rebuild, Blue Mountains, NSW | ECOdesign Architects | Photographer: Nigel Bell

When asked to design a ‘fire bunker’, ‘fire-shelter’, ‘fire refuge’, or the like, it is wise to be extremely careful and risk-averse about what you say in response to such a request, and preferably in writing.

Architects may provide pro bono services to a range of groups including community groups, through membership of churches, sporting or social clubs and out of a spirit of social compassion for communities in need, such as the victims of a natural disaster.

Common risk areas for architects include liability for free advice, partial services, design and documentation without contract administration, contract administration on another architects’ design, certification without full inspection and contract administration, pre-purchase and other inspections, valuations, pro bono services, working in specialist areas, secondment of staff and staff qualifications.

NATSPEC TECHnotes: Bushfire protection DES018

The impact of bushfire on life and property can be reduced with responsible preparation and bushfire management plans.

Architects may provide pro bono services to a range of groups including community groups, through membership of churches, sporting or social clubs and out of a spirit of social compassion for communities in need, such as the victims of a natural disaster.

Common risk areas for architects include liability for free advice, partial services, design and documentation without contract administration, contract administration on another architects’ design, certification without full inspection and contract administration, pre-purchase and other inspections, valuations, pro bono services, working in specialist areas, secondment of staff and staff qualifications.

Financial donations

Red Cross volunteers assist people who were evacuated from Mallacoota to Hastings by Naval ship. Image courtesy of Australian Red Cross | Photographer: Mathew Lynn

Charity donations

There a number of national and state charities who are currently seeking donations to raise funds to support the victims of the bushfire crisis.

We are calling on our staff around the country to donate a day’s salary to charities including our own Foundation, which will be used to support various post-fire design and rebuild programs across many affected areas.

We’ll be reaching out to you soon to encourage you to join this initiative, with 100% of funds raised to be used in post-fire design and related support efforts throughout the coming months.

Support to government

Support to government

We’ll also reach out to relevant local, state and federal government agencies to work through how and where we can best support those affected. We will keep you updated as these discussions progress. We encourage you to keep up to date on our dedicated website page which we will continue to update once further initiatives are developed.

This is a very distressing time for many in our community. For those experiencing the devastation first hand, for those responding to it, and for those witnessing the heartbreak and damage to the country and the people close to them. It is a time to band together, to support each other and to take extra care of each other’s welfare.

Thank you to all members who are already helping at this time, and thank you to our first responders and our firefighters for their heroic efforts.

Should you require additional support, contact your local Chapter and we can put you in touch with our dedicated confidential Assistance Portal, who can provide counselling and support to those who may be struggling throughout this ongoing crisis.

We will continue to keep you updated and encourage you to seek assistance from colleagues and your local Chapter.

Photographer: Aditya Joshi