Murrindindi Shire Council Memorials Consultation Tender Brief June 2010

Murrindindi Shire Council is seeking expressions of interest from suitably experienced organisations and individuals to assist them to engage with the community regarding the creation of permanent memorials commemorating the devastating fires of February 2009. Background On 7 February 2009 catastrophic fires devastated vast areas of country Victoria. Many areas of Victoria were affected but the small, dispersed communities of the Murrindindi Shire bore the brunt of the disaster. In Murrindindi alone 95 people lost their lives, 1397 dwellings and 1539 square kilometres (40% of the shire) were burnt. Since February, community groups, organisations and government agencies at the state and local level have put a massive effort into recovery, but the scale of the losses and the economic social and geographic diversity of the communities affected has meant that recovery is a challenging process. Experience suggests that the marking of anniversaries and the development of more lasting community memorials can be part of the recovery journey. Because of this, the Victorian Government has allocated funding to the Murrindindi Shire Council to support these types of activities in the Shire. A recent communication from Council reflects the approach that it aims to take Murrindindi Shire Council is determined to ensure commemoration services and memorials not only involve those most affected but also reflect the community’s shared understanding of their purpose. Experience from other communities following similar disasters has taught us that people recover from disasters at different rates and that consideration of commemoration and memorials should not be rushed as this can result in the people most affected by the disaster, particularly the bereaved, not being part of the process, or worse feeling alienated or further traumatised by the process. The most effective communal memorials reflect a shared meaning of the disaster held by the community in which it occurred. To achieve this we need to ensure we complete a thorough and sensitive consultation process with everyone affected, particularly those who have lost loved ones but also for so many others whose homes, friends, pets, possessions and communities were lost.

The Murrindindi Community
Murrindindi Shire is located north east of Melbourne’s urban fringe and encompasses large areas of quality agricultural land and timbered public land. Murrindindi is one of Melbourne’s closest natural playgrounds with beautiful national parks and state forests, the majestic Goulburn River and the expansive Lake Eildon. Extending over an area of just under 4,000sq kilometres, 48 percent of the shire is crown land. Murrindindi is characterised by many small towns including Acheron, Alexandra, Buxton, Cathkin, Castella, Eildon, Flowerdale, Glenburn, Gobur, Draft

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Highlands, Homewood, Kanumbra, Kinglake, Kinglake West, Koriella, Limestone, Marysville, Molesworth, Murrindindi, Narbethong, Rubicon, Strath Creek, Taggerty, Terip Terip, Thornton, Toolangi, Woodbourne, Yarck and Yea. All Murrindindi communities were impacted on by the February 09 fires. Some of course significantly more than others. There is little association by these communities with a Murrindindi identity but rather a strong association with each local community. This creates an interesting dynamic for memorials consultation in establishing what is important across communities, including issues such as do we have one central memorial, a couple in the most severely impacted areas of the shire or many memorials representing individual community experience.

Why are memorials important?
The urge for memorials is in every civilization. They preserve important events and remember those who died. Memorials are physical objects which stand for events, people and human experiences. They hold onto what has happened and make sure it is not forgotten and that those who did not know about it can find out, and they tell those who come after what is in their own past. They are touchable, see-able and can be gone to on special occasions so that reminders of the people and events are there for all to experience. (Rob Gordon 2009) When a community experiences a disaster, spontaneously developed rituals, symbols and memorials are used to give expression to people’s feelings of shock and loss. Later, the development and sanctioning by the community of more formal rituals and memorials which acknowledge and give meaning to what people have been through can also provide comfort. Over time, the question of a permanent memorial takes more precedence as a way of acknowledging a significant event in the history of the region and marking a milestone in people’s lives. RPR Consulting (2004) A Bushfire Memorial for the ACT- Community Consultation Discussion Paper -11 June 2004 Murrindindi Bushfire Commemorations Working Group A working group has been set up to provide advice to Council on bushfire commemorations and the associated consultation process and to assist Council to communicate well with all stakeholders. It met for the first time at a workshop on 26 November to begin planning bushfire commemoration activities in the Murrindindi Shire, and will continue to provide advice and support to Council throughout the consultation process. The working group is made up of key stakeholders including: • • Representatives of people who lost loved ones Community Recovery Committee (CRC) representatives: o For Kinglake Ranges (Kinglake West and Pheasant Creek) o For Marysville and Triangle: (Narbethong, Granton, Buxton and Taggerty) o For Strath Creek: o For Melba Highway (Murrindindi, Limestone and Glenburn) o For Castella and Toolangi: o For Flowerdale:

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Two Murrindindi Shire Councillors Three Murrindindi Council Officers Two representatives of Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority: A representative from Mitchell Community Heath: (case management provider) A representative from Berry Street: (case management provider) A representative from Family Care: (case management provider) A representative from Centre for Grief and Bereavement: A representative from Department of Planning and Community Development: A representative from Department of Human Services: A representative from Regional Arts Victoria:

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The importance of guiding principles The working group developed a set of principles to guide the consultation process based on the premise that the consultations associated with developing a memorial or memorials can be part of the healing journey when the timing is right, when everyone who wants to is given the opportunity to participate and when the process is handled sensitively and with respect and transparency. Murrindindi Shire principles to guide bushfire memorial consultations The overarching principle that will drive the memorials consultation is that whilst the end product is important, what is imperative is that process of consultation and reaching agreement about suitable memorials is healing. The working group agreed that the following principles would guide the consultation process. Guiding principle • What this means in practice Communications with bereaved people will be handled in accordance with their wishes • The preferences of those who have lost loved ones will be given highest priority in the final outcome of the consultations. *** • Transparency • The consultations will start with a blank slate – there will be no hidden agendas about the memorial or memorials. Clear information will be provided on the scope and timing of the consultation, on the decision making process and on funding options and processes.. The rationale for decisions will be communicated to the community.

Sensitive consideration for people who have been bereaved

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*** • Inclusiveness Everyone who wants to have a say will be given a chance to participate. o Appropriate ways to hear the voices of children who would like to be involved will be developed Consultations should include not only communities within the Shire but also neighbouring communities where appropriate. All views will be acknowledged and respected. We aim to understand the underlying meaning of what people say. The diversity of communities in the Murrindindi Shire and the strong identification which many people have with their local area will be incorporated into the way the consultation is conducted. • Communication approaches will be tailored to particular needs and circumstances eg o As far as possible those affected who have left the community will be offered an opportunity to have their say. • Decisions about the timing of the consultations will be guided by advice from the various affected communities, not arbitrary deadlines. *** • Regular feedback on progress will be provided to the community, and milestones will be celebrated. Close liaison will be maintained with all relevant state and community agencies during the planning and implementation of the consultation. The consultation process will be closely monitored and community feedback will be sought to ensure that it is operating within this guidance and that the community is satisfied with the approach. ***


Recognition of the diversity of communities

Communication, feedback and collaboration

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The Task In collaboration with the Murrindindi Commemorations Working Group and Murrindindi Shire Council: • Follow the guiding principles developed by the working group (above) • Use innovative and creative consultation and engagement tools to reach all stakeholders including: o Bereaved people o People in flame affected communities o The broader Murrindindi community o People displaced from their communities by the fires o Affected people living outside the shire o All ages and stages Phase 1 • Design and conduct a program of community consultation and engagement to establish a design framework regarding the creation of permanent memorial/s to the February 2009 bushfires. Including o common understanding of the meaning of memorials o views on how that meaning should be expressed o Potential site/s (including a common view of people feelings regarding one substantial central memorial or many smaller memorials) o Potential design elements (with consideration of long term maintenance costs) Phase 2 • Based on the design framework from stage 1 design and conduct a consultation and engagement process to o Establish a short list of preferred sites o Establish design brief/s Expression of interest submissions should include • Demonstrable evidence of your o understanding of the importance of memorials and the sensitivities associated with them o relevant experience, including examples of completed works • An outline of your intended approach including description of the tools you would be likely to use • Estimated timeframe of activities • Outline of your intended reporting mechanism and schedule • Fee schedule including any pro-bono elements (within budget limit of $60,000) For more information please contact Jenny Branton, Manager Organisational Development, 5772 0345, jbranton@murrindindi.vic.gov.au

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