Resilience, vitality and spiritedness are words that could be used to describe the Kangaroo Island community, especially after the recent Black Summer bushfires, and through the pandemic.
As one part of the Island's recovery a special Bushfire Community Legal Project was created through Community Legal Centres SA (CLCSA), to help people and communities with legal support through a range of activities.
Last week the project was given the honour of winning the community category of the 2021 South Australian Resilient Australia Awards.
CLCSA KI legal officer Holly McCoy said the community and service providers had been an integral part of the project.
"Despite being strangers from the mainland, everyone was quick to welcome us, share their experience and knowledge with us, trust us, make suggestions as to who we should meet next, offer up office space and presentation venues, invite us to community events, and provide ideas on service delivery," she said.
"Our biggest hurdle was the design of the project; being an innovative project, there were no templates or best practice models we could use.
"We had to start from scratch to create a trauma-informed project which met and responded to the specific needs of the KI community."
Ms McCoy said the project had delivered a direct service to over 150 people, made over 160 referrals to services, and hosted 24 legal information sessions with numerous community members attending.
"The education sessions have varied in topics, depending on community need," she said.
"With the SA Legal Services Commission we have also developed and provided the community with 'Grab & Go' tough bags for storing important legal documents; a free tangible tool to help people with their preparedness."
According to Ms McCoy, lockdowns, health advice and weather meant there were times where events had to be cancelled, postponed or held virtually, making the task that much more 'interesting'.
"We appreciated and prioritised the need to ensure the safety of the KI community...we recommenced our weekly outreach when it was safe to do so, making sure we made up for lost time," she said.
We tried to ensure the project was easily accessible by a number of other means and that we were accessible when on the mainland too.
"We have also been active on our Facebook page (@CLCSouth Australia) and in The Islander; providing useful information and legal tips where appropriate."
CLCSA staff were surprised and excited to win the award which recognised the efforts of all individuals, organisations, services, and agencies who helped with the project.
"Moreover, we wish to say a heartfelt thank you to the KI community and service providers for the support and assistance they have provided us with," Ms McCoy said.
"They, along with our stakeholders, have contributed greatly to the Bushfire Community Legal Project and we therefore thank and congratulate them on this joint achievement!"
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.