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Film project in Nhill with the Karen community
In the far west of the state in the small town of Nhill, an important project is underway
CFA is working alongside the Nhill Learning Centre and The University of Adelaide to engage with the local Karen community to develop a culturally relevant and meaningful fire safety film. The project has been funded by the Summer Local Initiative Grant through CFA.
The Karen people are an ethnic group from Myanmar with a distinctive culture and their own languages. More than 140,000 Karen refugees fled to Thailand to escape the civil war in which they have been fighting for over 60 years against the Burmese military regime.
Since 2003, many of these refugees have been resettled in Victoria with the hope of a more prosperous and peaceful life. They were drawn to Nhill with a promise of work with a local poultry company and the community has flourished. Karen communities are found across Victoria including Moe, Laharum, Springvale, Dandenong and Bendigo.
In a new approach to working with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, CFA will work with the local Karen community to determine what fire safety information they need, and how messages can be tailored for the community’s discrete communication needs. And when it comes to fire safety, the local community has been loud and clear; they want to better understand Victoria’s fire restrictions and fire bans.
Understanding what fires are allowed over summer and on Total Fire Ban days, and what machinery can be used, is challenging even for those who speak English as their first language. Imagine when your English proficiency is low, you are unfamiliar with the environment and don't understand the risk of bushfires. How would you understand fire restrictions and interpret a Total Fire Ban?
The Nhill Learning Centre will host a series of workshops for the local Karen community and CFA to develop a film on fire restrictions and fire bans. Importantly, the approach to the development of the film will be truly participatory; that is, the local Karen community will co-develop with CFA all aspects of the film. The participatory approach treats the Karen community and CFA’s knowledge, strengths and expertise in equal measure.
This is not CFA developing a film for the Karen community telling them what to do and what they need to know. On the contrary, this will be the two groups working equitably, in partnership, to develop something that's meaningful and owned locally by the community.
The film’s actors will be drawn from the Karen community and Nhill Fire Brigade, and shooting locations will be chosen to reflect the everyday experiences of the community.
“Nhill Learning Centre is thrilled to be involved in this project, working alongside the Karen community, the CFA and the University of Adelaide,” said Annette Creek of the Nhill Learning Centre. “This project will, in a very practical way, bring together the community and local services, helping to build longlasting connections, while providing essential training for the community at large.”
It is also anticipated that the film will be meaningful to other Karen community groups across the state and will help spread the message about fire restrictions over summer.