Into Our Hands Community Foundation

Into Our Hands is a bold, innovative foundation brings together fire-affected communities from the Alpine, Indigo and Wangaratta regions. Last month it featured in The Australian Farmer digital publication. 

No one can forget the 2009 Black Saturday fires, including the fire that roared through Mudgegonga, on February 7th and 8th 2009, decimating 85% of the area. People lost their lives. Property was damaged, animals perished and crops were lost. Amidst the chaos, farmers, like Bernie Carroll, still had to get on with their lives and keep their farms running.

After the fire, the Bushfire Appeal fund administrators met the community of Mudgegonga, and six other fire-affected communities, and asked them to ‘think big’ about how they wanted to spend the money. They did. A group of representatives asked locals: How would they like their communities to look in ten, fifty and even one hundred 100 years’ time? How could they learn from this disaster and protect against another.

The answer was to start up a community foundation called ‘Into our Hands’. It’s a creative, bold and exciting long-term master plan. ‘It’s a golden opportunity that we’ve been handed,’ said Paula Pipan, a founding director of the foundation. ‘People are really excited...They know what’s required here, because it’s their community so the community itself is going to be able to take these ideas and put them into actions, which is an opportunity you don’t often get.’

Forming the foundation has built relationships within the community as well. Jim Carroll was born in 1928 and this is the first time he’s seen the community come together like this. ‘We’ve met people from around here who we’d hardly met before and now we know them pretty well, so things have changed, it’s certainly brought people together.’

As part of ABC Open’s ‘Now and Then’ project, a group of these Alpine farmers reflect on the changes they’ve seen in their community since the Black Saturday bushfires. The film, 43 degrees at midnight, talks about the Mudgegonga community before and after Black Saturday and listens as residents talk about the future.

Read the excellent The Australian Farmer article about the Into Our Hands Community Foundation here.

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