Announced at the 2022 IAP2 Australasia Conference held in Melbourne, the prestigious awards recognise the outstanding projects and organisations that are at the forefront of community engagement. WSP, alongside Laing O’Rourke and NSW Public Works Advisory, was recognised for its collaborative work on the NSW Bushfire Clean-up Program in building resilient communities through natural disasters.
The purpose of the NSW Bushfire Clean-up Program was to provide free clean-up assistance for eligible residences and businesses impacted by the 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires. Jointly funded by the Federal and State governments, WSP was engaged as a subcontractor to respond to the needs of people across NSW who had lost their properties to the devastating bushfires. This included establishing and managing an in-house 24/7 call centre (handling 4000+ calls and 30,000+ emails) and establishing a consistent contact for every resident to provide them with continuity during a period of uncertainty.
The judges commended the extensive collaboration across industries in the creation of the Program, and the opportunity for this to be used as a template across NSW and Australia going forward, “This is a fantastic example of uplifting a community after tragedy in a way that fairly and clearly sets expectations and allows affected people to have a part in what their recovery looks like."
In just 200 days, more than 3,500 properties across NSW were clear of bushfire debris, 5,900 registrations from property owners for assistance were reviewed, and in-person assessments of more than 4000 property owners were completed.
WSP set the benchmark for providing a service that was personal and compassionate. Decision-making was driven by a Future Ready™ mindset to explore what was best for the bushfire ridden community going forward, and this was successfully achieved by embedding the team within the local community to learn what was important for their recovery.
Holly Love, WSP’s Communications and Engagement Technical Executive for NSW/ACT, says, “In our first internal planning meeting we made a commitment to put the community at the heart of the project. To stop, listen, to go above and beyond to meet their expectations. From that point forward, every new staff member joining the team was briefed in the same way and “this isn’t your usual construction project” became our rallying cry.”
The success of the NSW Bush Fire Clean-up project has established a new engineering standard and best practice for natural disaster recover. Holly and the team put physical and psychology safety first, approached the work with a Future Ready mindset of consistently looking for efficiencies, regularly held planning and debriefing sessions, while always playing to each other’s strengths.
Holly says, “As tempting as it might be to get out there and start engaging, pausing to plan and establish your team means the difference between success and failure.”
This isn’t the first time the NSW Bushfire Clean-up Program has received an award. In recognition of the efficient and sensitive work undertaken, the Program was named the recipient of the 2020 Premier’s Award for Recovery and Resilience.
Last year WSP and Dunedin City Council won the IAP2 Australasia Project of the Year for the Whakahekerau – Rakiātea Rautaki Tai: A community’s vision for a resilient coast project.
Congratulations to everyone who worked on this project!
Learn more about the delivery and impact of this project: NSW Bushfire Clean Up Community Engagement | WSP