SIBA Retreat Centre is a beautiful and friendly Buddhist retreat in the Snowy River country of East Gippsland. Formerly ONTOS, it was founded by Lama Choedak Rinpoche and formally opened and consecrated by His Eminence Chogye Trichen Rinpoche in 2006. During this time His Eminence gave the centre the dharma name 'Tsarchen Choeling'.
Amelia and Jack took over the coordination and management of the retreat about six months ago. During their first month of managing it, they were evacuated due to the fires that impacted W Tree, Buchan and the surrounding communities. This was quite a shock because they had never been in this position before.
Amelia and Jack want to be prepared for this fire season so contacted CFA Community Engagement coordinator Jodie Burt and planned a day of hands-on practical bushfire, grassfire and residential fire safety scenarios facilitated by Community Liaison Educator Allan Cracknell.
The SIBA team ran through several drills and theoretical scenarios including an emergency evacuation drill, use of the firefighting equipment on the property, understanding the importance of having firefighting equipment on hand and in working order, running through a drill of filling up their slip-on water tank, starting the pumps and ensuring they had correct protective clothing and resources on hand, and most importantly management of vegetation around the retreat.
Amelia and Jack’s bushfire survival plan is to leave early. At times they are responsible for up to 300 retreat participants so it's clearly important they are prepared for all fire scenarios and evacuation if the circumstances arise.