The establishment of The Hub has certainly demonstrated the importance of such a facility with the Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA) putting forward The Hub in the Queensland State Bushfire Recovery Plan, as a case study and role model for integrated disaster management and recovery.
As rapid wildfires swept across the Shire last November threatening our community, the significance of Council’s state-of-the-art disaster coordination facility was well demonstrated. The swift response and efficient activation of The Hub during this declared disaster, highlighted how imperative it was to have this purpose-built integrated facility.
The ability to have all agencies involved co-located and working closely together in the one location ensured the best possible management of what has been widely recognised as the most challenging and dangerous bush-fire event this community has ever experienced.
Training and activation exercises conducted since The Hub’s opening, also played a pivotal role in ensuring both the Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) and Local Disaster Coordination Centre (LDCC) teams had the ‘hands-on’ coordination needed to meet the complex challenges this unprecedented disaster event presented.
The fully established centre went seamlessly from standby to operational and functioning in record time following the decision being made to activate and ‘stand-up’. This proved critical in ensuring the respective teams and agencies were ready and able to initiate the best possible coordinated response.
The significance and complexity of these unprecedented wildfires, advancing rapidly on multiple fronts, required a dynamic and ever-changing response.
Similarly, as the event unfolded and transitioned from response to recovery, the vital role this facility was able to play for both response agencies and those community members impacted by the fires was clearly demonstrated.
Throughout this event, The Hub did the job it was designed to do. It performed the multiple functions of a pivotal location for the coordination of the event, providing the space and advanced technology support for Local Disaster Management Group briefings and meetings, as well as facilitating high-level briefings and State-wide conferencing with the Premier, State and Federal members, as well as both State and Federal Recovery Coordinators.
The Hub’s open parkland location, which is used for community engagement throughout the year, was a perfect platform to conduct media conferences to provide updates to the community, whilst having the Town Hall in close proximity also provided an opportunity for a community meeting to deliver the latest bushfire update.
As the event moved progressively from response to recovery, the focus in the Coordination Centre changed rapidly and the venue became a one-stop shop for recovery with multiple agencies working closely together to provide the best support for our community to get back on their feet.
Today the recovery from both the Central Queensland Fires of 2018 and the East Coast Fires of 2019 continues with the locally led Recovery and Resilience Taskforces holding regular meetings at The Hub.
When not in full disaster activation mode, The Hub’s focus continues to be on disaster training initiatives, university emergency management students and local schools, as well as community engagement and education to build overall resilience.
These integrated uses include the annual Livingstone Get Ready Get Resilient Day, which gives the community not only an opportunity to engage with emergency services and witness displays, but also to tour the building.
Building resilience will continue to be the focal point of Council’s approach to delivering activities at The Hub for generations to come. Importantly, The Hub is a resource for not only the Livingstone Shire Local Disaster Management group, but also State agencies and other Local Governments.
Council received $3.35 million in funding under the Natural Disaster Resilience Program to build and outfit The Hub with ‘state of the art’ technology, with Livingstone Shire Council contributing $2.875 million.
Scoping work has already been undertaken to fit-out the balance areas of the ground and first floors for customer service uses, office accommodation and possible use as a new library.
The latter would free up the existing library in John Street for use as a dedicated home for the Capricorn Coast Senior Citizens.