Resilience Hack youth team responds in Byron Bay

Community stories: 27 July 2021

Resilience Hack is a unique program responding to extreme weather events, empowering young people by developing their leadership and emergency response skills. Delivered through the latter half of 2020, amid many COVID-19 related challenges, this program from the Byron Youth Service Inc was funded through FRRR’s Disaster Resilient: Future Ready program.

It created a ‘Youth Response Team’ of students aged 12 to 18 from the north end of Byron Shire who developed connections, knowledge and skills to share across generations and community groups. The idea was for the ‘Youth Response Team’ to meet after school hours once a week over two terms to participate in activities that build emergency response skills and awareness, team building, leadership, volunteering and community contribution. The primary aim was to build capacity in the community to be more aware, prepared and responsive to natural disaster events. 

The pandemic’s emergence meant that practically every date, event, visit, and collaboration planned for the project were altered, but FRRR and Byron Youth Service knew they could still create value and just needed to apply a flexible approach to the project.  

  • As an alternative to the Tree Top Rope Challenge they planned (which as across a state border) they went on a local kayak trip on the Brunswick River, which turned out to be much more relevant to the program.
  • When the peer leader training couldn’t go ahead at school, students and teachers collaborated on a ‘Zine’ resource creating both personal and group idea clouds based on themes of self-care and resilience which have been distributed throughout the community. 
  • The community event couldn’t go ahead due to restrictions on gathering, so they adopted the strategy of a walk-by, multi-media, revolving art exhibition and information display at the main entrance to the shopping centre to showcase the young peoples’ work. 

“The art exhibition brought a sense of place-making, connection and resilience to the community,” reported Karma Barnes, Youth Response Team Coordinator.

The importance of caring for Country and cultural awareness is paramount in disaster resilience and response, and the group engaged in a workshop with Arakwal Bumberbin Bundjalung Woman, Delta Kay. The workshop took place along the Byron Bay coast, where they visited The Pass Midden Site, identified and tried bush tucker, and learnt about resilience through being ‘Connected to Country’. The group also participated in workshops with the Mullimbimby Fire Brigade and Byron Bay Police, learning from the professionals’ experiences and stories from in the field. 

The young participants also featured on BayFM and YAC Radio, and the project was visually documented by Gold Coast media specialists, which was launched at the final session of the program and played on rotation at the shopping centre entrance.

“We are most proud of delivering a project supporting young people through wellbeing activities and resilience skills in direct response to the challenging times that we are living in. The program was delivered post COVID-19 lockdown and brought positive wellbeing support to our young people while addressing our communities compounded lived experiences through the pandemic and recent fires, drought and floods through showcasing the project in a two-month community arts display at the Ocean Shores Youth Pop-up space.”
Karma Barnes, Youth Response Team Coordinator