Being there for one another

November 23, 2016

Fire destroys unit: Grandson Brendan McIntyre sifts through the remains of his grandmother's home for any cherished belongings on Tuesday.

Today’s front page story about a devastating fire is proof of the old cliche — every cloud has a silver lining.

Anyone who woke in the early hours to find their home on fire would be terrified, but for an 86-year-old living alone, fear would be compounded by physical frailty.

Luckily for Joan Kelso she was surrounded by the help of her immediate neighbours as well as the professional care and skills of the wider community in the shape of Rodney Park staff, and ambulance, police and fire personnel who all responded with speed and diligence.

This is an example of what small communities do so well — surrounding disaster with kindness and support.

We have networks of emergency responders who live and work alongside each other every day.

They provide knowledge and skill that nobody else from outside the area could offer.

From local geography to personal knowledge and care — only people who know each other and their surroundings can act so swiftly.

The first responders, the neighbours and the carers are proof that small communities are powerful things.

Great communities don’t just happen: they are created, nurtured and sustained by caring and involved residents.

Yesterday’s fire in Mooroopna was devastating, but it could have been so much worse.

A life was saved, people offered support and the lifelines of community were reinforced.

On a national or world scale it may be a small event — but it is an inspiring example of people looking after each other.

We are living in times of unprecedented change and complexity and we are becoming aware that governments do not have the answers to the major challenges confronting society.

The fire is a sign that local communities can and must find their own solutions to their own problems.

This is the sort of thing that local councils and politicians quite rightly talk about at conferences — building community resilience, connectedness and inclusion.

The pulling together of our community and emergency services to save a life in a fire means we can be assured that in our small way, these big ideas are taking shape in our small towns.

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