Crucial disaster management and awareness resources have been developed in several languages, thanks to a collaboration between Townsville City Council and volunteers from the local refugee and migrant communities.

These resources include videos, factsheets and children’s books which are available in up to seven languages. These are free to access and available online.

Community and Cultural Development Committee chairperson Ann-Maree Greaney said the program had been an initiative that came from learnings of the 2019 monsoon.

“After the monsoon in 2019, a recovery task group identified that there was a gap in providing disaster resources that were culturally and linguistically diverse to support our entire community,” Cr Greaney said. “This project has been a fantastic cross-collaboration between Council’s recovery team and the Townsville Multicultural Support Group who helped identify the languages needed most throughout the community and recruited volunteers to assist with the translations. The result is a full suite of videos and factsheets translated into Somali, Swahili, French, Sango, Kinyarwanda, and Karen, with the factsheets also available in Kirundi. It also allowed for the translation and local printing of the entire collection of award-winning Birdie’s Tree children’s book series that was developed by the Queensland Centre for Perinatal and Infant Mental Health, Children’s Health Queensland.”

Cr Greaney said the initiative was challenging, but extremely rewarding for not just Townsville, but migrant and refugee communities across Australia.

“There were several challenges completing this initiative, particularly finding translators for some of these languages was bordering on impossible,” she said. “For example, Sango only has two translators globally so resources in this language will prove invaluable for Sango people across Australia to prepare for disasters such as fires or floods. The video translated in Sango may be the only disaster resource in the language in the world. This is such an impressive and valuable collection or resources, and I am extremely proud and grateful for the staff, the Townsville Multicultural Support Group and the volunteers who have managed to produce such a rewarding end product that will really assist our entire community in the case of any future natural disasters.”

Andrea Baldwin, the co-author of Birdie’s Tree and Service Development Leader for Queensland Centre for Perinatal and Infant Mental Health, said these books will go a long way in supporting families going through a disaster.

“It is incredibly important that we have resources that support some more vulnerable members of our community, particularly those who may come from difficult situations and then be faced with a natural disaster here,” Dr Baldwin said. “Being able to pick up a beautiful, printed copy of these translated Birdie’s Tree books, and read them with your family, lets you know that someone was thinking of you. This is a fantastic initiative completed in Townsville and will really help support the emotional wellbeing and resilience of babies, young children and families throughout Australia.”

This program was jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).

For more information, visit Council’s website here.

Find the Birdie’s Tree books here.