Our speaker on October 6 was Pete Williams, self-described as a one-time Flemington Hooligan kid. His talk was on Victoria’s bushfires and especially the terrible 2009 fires. Pete helped lead the community recovery at Flowerdale, where 13 lives and 234 homes were lost that Black Saturday. He continues to work for fire-stricken communities. We had 35 members and friends log in.
If you missed the talk, the recording is here:
Passcode: VEN39%vH 

Pete gave fascinating insights into the community recovery process, especially the need to by-pass slow-moving bureaucracies and get busy with projects on the ground, like mobilising funds and volunteer tradies to install urgently needed water tanks for survivors in makeshift housing.
He says the improvements since 2009 have been in warning systems, mental health awareness and financial counselling. The continuing bad stuff involves muddled leadership, bureaucracy, and lack of urgency and momentum. With three levels of government involved, form-filling can drive survivors and helpers nuts. Some bureaucrats took a fortnight to return his phone calls for help, and when asked why they said, “We’ve been having a lot of meetings”. He found he could get projects done in the time bureaucrats took to work out the government protocols. 
As an example of can-do, mining magnate Twiggy Forrest flew in to Flowerdale by helicopter, asked what was needed, and on the spot called on his company resources to bring in 16 dongas, plus washing machines and laundries. Pete and his organisation Deloittes created a user-friendly software system for everyone to use to apply for appropriate grants, rather than be swamped by hordes of suggested grants of varying relevancy. “You have to own your own recovery and get in harm’s way to get things done,” he says. “For example, we mobilised 6500 tradies across Victoria to help with things like water tank installations.” A terrific and inspirational talk, thanks Pete. We need more hooligans like you.