Moruya Preschool on the way to becoming “a true bushfire safe haven”
Moruya Preschool, a small not-for-profit community-owned preschool on the far south coast of New South Wales, served as an informal safe haven for many local children and families during the Black Summer bushfires.
With the support of a $25,000 grant, the preschool will now take on a more formal protection status, and will be outfitted with a solar system, battery storage and an external shed for storing the major components of the system, as well as HEPA air filters, to better equip the preschool to withstand future fire events.
The Southcoast Health and Sustainability Alliance (SHASA) was instrumental in securing the funding for the preschool, the 12th community facility which it has been able to assist through the Community Facility Solar Installation Program.
With the grant they were able to engage the services of long-term SHASA partner – Bodalla based renewables specialist Micro Energy Systems Australia (MESA) – to install the new solar system.
Funding was received through the News Corp Bushfire Fund administered by the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal. The preschool is applying for a separate grant to mean they can also add a fire/hose pump and a backup generator.
Speaking with local news source About Regional, Moruya Preschool Director Marie Sutton explained that although the preschool is a relatively small space, during the 2019/20 summer, parents and staff were able to shelter there.
“One of our staff members, Brigitte, who lives out at Congo surrounded by bush and national park, was feeling very uncomfortable about staying out there,” she shared.
“So, she came up with the idea of coming out here because it is a safe space, close to town and safe for children – and she brought her grandchildren along with her, too,” Ms Sutton said.
Another member of staff – Ammanda Donnelly – had already given up her own accommodation to others who had lost their homes and also joined Brigitte at the preschool. Then, others came along until there were about eight families, around 10 children and the preschool’s chooks.
It was great for the children to be away from the immediate danger of the fires, Ms Donnelly said, and to have a space to play and be together. The adults spent the days cleaning the gutters, cutting down trees and watching for embers dropping.
With the addition of the grant funding, the preschool will be able to support the community during fires and other extreme weather events such as heatwaves.
“When we do get the generator, I’m hoping we can be open as a place for people to come and charge their phones or even get a cold drink,” Ms Sutton said.
To read the original coverage of this story please see here.