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Production   /  Anthony Brennan

We Are Conjola

'WE ARE CONJOLA' Our fire - Our story

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Impact areas

ARTS

ENVIRONMENT

HEALTH & WELLBEING

HUMAN RIGHTS & SOCIAL JUSTICE

INDIGENOUS

WOMEN & GIRLS

Crew

  • DIRECTOR Anthony "Ash" Brennan

  • PRODUCER Anthony Brennan

Synopsis

DURATION: 90 MINUTES

NYE 2019. Director and film maker Ash Brennan lost his house in the Conjola Park Bushfire which nearly killed his brother and many others who stayed to fight.
From a Perth hotel room Ash saw the first image of what used to be his house in the background of a news reporter.
Up until that moment, Ash had been heavily involved in the West Papuan Freedom Campaign, working alongside Independence Leader Benny Wenda to raise awareness of the plight of the people of West Papua and was half way through pre-production on a documentary about the Independence movement when the NYE Bushfires struck.

After almost being wiped off the map, a traumatised community waited for help. But it never came.
Conjola was abandoned and left for dead.
Local artists then started creating. They needed to heal. It gave the community hope and solidified their journey to recovery, together.
Ash hopes that the creation of this film will be part of that recovery.

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22.12% funded
  • $70,000.00

    FUNDING GOAL
  • $15,485.00

    FUNDS RAISED
  • December 2020

    PROJECT ENDS
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Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

For many Australians, 2020 has been the worst year in living memory. First bushfires and now a pandemic. Covid 19 has taken our attention away from the destruction of the bushfires. Many victims are still homeless with little money filtering through across all bushfire zones. From the Prime Minister of Australia and all the way down to the RFS chiefs, many had a hand in this disaster.
For all of us who lost our houses, who suffered the trauma, who got badly burnt, and on behalf of those who sadly perished, we want our stories heard, so this can never happen again.

Impact

What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

Using their art as a pathway to recovery following the New Years Eve bushfires which killed two people and destroyed 114 homes in the area, 5 local artists tell the story of that horror night, and their steps to healing and peace for themselves, and for their community.

‘We are Conjola’ is a story of survival. Told by those who were there with footage that shows fire like it has never been seen before. But it also puts a value on how important art is to community.

Outcomes

What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

We want the world to become aware of the politics that caused the bushfires on NYE. It is time to stop making short term financial decisions and start making long term environmental ones.
For fire fighting organisations to look at alternatives to back burning such as ancient indigenous ways of hazard reduction.
We hope that volunteers fire fighters will receive proper training and wage.
For governments to value artists and properly support their craft.
A historical documentation of events, told by locals for government, fire authorities and council to learn from.

Activities

How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

As mentioned previously - a campaign to have the documentary played in schools and even attached to the high school curriculum would be sought after.

Stakeholders

How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

Lake Conjola resident Peter Dunn is a consultant on the project. In many ways the community was fortunate that Peter and his wife Lindy were there to lead the Conjola recovery centre.
The ex army major general lived in Canberra during the 2003 bushfires and was the commissioner for ACT emergency services. From there, he went onto consult for disaster relief around the world.
He was also a member of the ex fire chiefs who warned the government of impending fire disaster a year ago.
We are also enlisted the help of 'Ulladulla Videographers' for roles such as camera assist and runners. In return they will get some valuable on the job training.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

Australia must absolutely address climate change. The disaster of Conjola has completely devastated the communities and left three people dead. We must FIGHT for a new green deal, a climate future that stops destroying the environment and works in harmony with it instead. Also a ban on back burning and the adoption of ancient indigenous ways of hazard reductions.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

What the people of Conjola experienced on that day and the following weeks was nothing short of abandonment.
Abandonment from our government who’s lack of real climate policy created a tinder box.
Abandonment from their PM who decided holidaying in Hawaii whole his country burned.
Abandonment from the Fire Management who left Conjola under resourced.
Abandonment from the NSW Police Force who imprisoned residents with road blocks. Threatening traumatised people with arrest if they were to leave and try to re enter.
Abandonment from state government, who never sent any recovery or medical teams to check on them, and quite simply, left Conjola for dead.

The success of the film will be measured by this atrocity never happening again