SEVEN community murals will be painted in key locations across Port Macquarie-Hastings as a thank you to the efforts of the region's first responders in the 2019 bushfires.
A call is out to local artists who are interested in participating in the project with indeas to be submitted to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council by Sunday, September 20.
Mayor Peta Pinson launched the project at Westport Park, the first location for a community mural. The project is funded through the Commonwealth Government Disaster Recovery Funding made available to council.
Council received $60,000 for a community celebration for the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and volunteers. Initial planning commenced for the event before it was put on hold as a result of COVID-19 lockdown.
Now, council is looking at a series of special gratitude events to end the year in lieu of larger scale Christmas celebrations.
Some of the ideas for the celebration include the gratitude murals in prominent public spaces and fire-affected communities; gratitude chalkboard walls; and a virtual Christmas celebration to be streamed online.
Thank you murals are planned for Westport Park in Port Macquarie, Lake Cathie, Wauchope, Beechwood, Rollands Plains, Pappinbarra and Long Flat.
"The best way we can say thank you is to put something very prominent in an area like Westport Park. (The mural) is designed to say thank you to our first responders and all those who stepped forward during our bushfires last year," Cr Pinson said.
"Twelve months goes by very quickly and here we are again ready for another bushfire season."
Council is looking for artists to submit an expression of interest in the project.
"In the Port Macquarie-Hastings region we have a diversity of artists and culture. Artists have until Sunday, September 20 to get an expression of interest in and let us know what their design might be."
Gratitude builds emotional resilience; provides both the giver and the receiver with a sense of well-being; helps council maintain a positive relationship with the community; and creates a sense of purpose for volunteers and community groups.
Cr Pinson said 2020 has been "a year like no other" and sadly, many communities are still reeling from the impacts of last year's horrific fires.
The murals will accompanied by a thank you wall, where all of our community can come and write messages of thanks.
"This is an important and exciting community initiative, and the murals will be unveiled at a special event later this year," Cr Pinson said.
Saturday, September 19 marks the Rural Fire Service's 'Get Ready Weekend'.
A number of Port Macquarie-Hastings RFS branches will be open to the public and have volunteers available to provide advice on being prepared, and what to do in a bushfire.
You can find out more on the RFS website rfs.nsw.gov.au.