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Mid North Coast arts organisation SmartArts facilitated this project, working with the Yarrahapinni – Stuarts Point Rural Fire Service to share their experiences and record their stories. Several of the members who responded to the 2019 catastrophic bush fires in the regions have also supported other communities across Australia, including the Black Saturday communities.

The project was focused on the communities of Stuarts Point, Yarrahappinni and Eungai, which provided the opportunity to meet and talk with individual community members who shared personal experiences and stories of their community. These touched on resilience, response, recovery,
and renewal. The portrait images are an interpretation of those stories and an attempt to depict the resilience of individuals, community, and the environment.

Two Elders Auntie Janet Smith and Uncle Martin Ballangarry who represent Gumbaynggirr, Dunghutti and Birapi nations shared their thoughts. These two Elders personify resilience.

Quotes from those who collaborated on the project:

“ Like Nemo – you keep on swimming, just keep on swimming’’“You get back up, there is no choice’
“Staying strong – no matter what life throws at you”
“When it is out of your control, it makes you feel helpless”
“We have the local knowledge, yet they won’t listen to us”
“I reported it and through lack of action a child died”
“No point in dwelling on the past, you just have to push on”

“Sometimes it seems we only come together as a community for a funeral or fire or flood”
“You have to heal yourself, before you can help others and the community”
“We’ve been here for a long time and we will always be here”
“Support each other, that’s what you do”

Images: Denni Scott-Davis, SmartArts

This Creative Recovery project was supported by Arts Mid North Coast and made possible through the joint Commonwealth/State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements, Resilience NSW and FRRR (Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal) 

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Arts Mid North Coast acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians.

We live and work across the traditional lands of the Gumbaynggirr, Dunghutti/Thunghutti and Biripi Nations on the Mid North Coast of NSW.

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