Hawkesbury residents share stories to inspire climate change resilience

The Hawkesbury Resilience Project, in collaboration with Western Sydney University, is leading a new initiative to uncover how Hawkesbury residents are responding to climate change.

The ‘Stories of Resilience’ initiative is one of the ways the Hawkesbury Resilience Project is encouraging climate change awareness in the region, which has recently been impacted by once-in-a-generation fires and floods.

Former geography teacher and Sackville resident, Helen Sobiesiak, has contributed her story to the collection, explaining her connection and passion for the land comes from her ancestors, who lived in the area as far back as 1827.

“As a geographer, you certainly recognise that everything is connected – and that if we do something, there’s going to be an impact, or a repercussion. Also understanding a need to use resources in a way that they will last for future generations – that’s at the heart of what I’ve taught,” said Ms Sobiesiak.

Now retired, Helen dedicates her time and expertise to promoting climate change awareness within the Hawkesbury and hopes to model how to live sustainably and responsibly for her grandchildren.

“It’s liberating to say, ‘well what am I going to put my energy into?’. You can make a contribution, encourage others by being part of a community, try and create a better life, a better world for our kids, our grandchildren," she said.

Among the other community leaders featured so far are, Dr Sally Faulks, Richmond, General Practitioner; Pastor Stephen Kearns, Kurrajong, Minister for Kurrajong Baptist Church and Carpenter/Business Owner (Solid Art Design); William Potter, North Richmond, Architecture Student; and Craig Burley, Colo, Group Captain Hawkesbury RFS and Fire Consultant.

Tanya Ritchie, Project Manager and Community Consultant for the Hawkesbury Resilience Project, said the initiative is part of a broader project to encourage locals to talk about and prepare for worsening fires, floods and droughts that are projected as a result of climate change.

“By connecting with each other and sharing stories, we can learn new and positive ways to respond. Whether it’s how to prepare for fire, plant trees, cope with stress, recover from flood, go solar, respond to emergencies, connect with your neighbours or lobby government, we all have something useful to teach and to learn about living well in these challenging times,” said Ms Ritchie.

Jen Dollin, Head of Sustainability Education at Western Sydney University, said the Hawkesbury was a unique region and highlighting the constructive ways residents are already responding to our changing climate is beneficial to all.

“I encourage community members to contribute their stories, ideas and insights as part of this initiative – at the core of the Hawkesbury Resilience Project is providing people with a platform and a voice,” said Ms Dollin.

The Hawkesbury Resilience Project is a partnership between Western Sydney University, Hawkesbury City Council, Hawkesbury Environment Network, Macquarie Electorate Student Climate Activists, Penrith-Hawkesbury Environmental Educators Network and RCE Greater Western Sydney, and is funded by an AdaptNSW Community Grant.

To read the collection or to contribute your story, visit the Stories of Resilience web page(opens in a new window).


1 September 2021

Ali Sardyga, Senior Media Officer