Community-led recovery in a time of cascading disasters

The Blacksmiths’ Tree is a stunning nine-metre steel and copper gum tree which stands in the small town of Strathewen, Victoria, as a memorial to the people and communities impacted by Black Saturday and the 2009 Victorian bushfires.

The project began with designer and metal artist, Amanda Grant, who coordinated a local and international team of blacksmiths and volunteers to create what has become an enduring symbol of hope, resilience and connectedness.

In this episode, Amanda joins us to look at the different roles of artist and facilitator, and what these roles mean in a disaster recovery context. What role can the arts play in community-led recovery? What does a community-led project look like, and how can artists facilitate authentic community engagement in their work?

We also head to Central and Western Gippsland, where three shire councils are collaborating with Creative Recovery Network to support local artists to develop community-led bushfire recovery projects, with Amanda as lead mentor.

We speak to Latrobe City Council’s Robyn Duffy and Linda Snell about the important role of local government in community recovery and we also hear from Gulsen Ozer, one of the artists on the project. Gulsen shares her insights on the current challenges of cascading disasters and the creative solution found by the project team when their community consultation process was interrupted by Victoria’s Covid19 lockdown.


  • Amanda Grant, Lead Mentor, Creative Recovery Network / Project Lead on The Blacksmiths’ Tree
  • Robyn Duffy, Municipal Recovery Manager, Latrobe City Council
  • Linda Snell, Yinnar South Recovery Officer, Latrobe City Council
  • Gulsen Ozer, Artist

Production Credits: 

Executive Producer: Jess O’Callaghan

Produced by Scotia Monkivitch and Jill Robson

Edited and Mixed by: Tiffany Dimmack

How to Listen

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Case study library

Would you like to hear about more arts-based programs supporting and strengthening communities? Our case study library features a range of projects that harness the power of the arts to enhance all stages of disaster planning.