Cobargo Population Strong
Debra Summer and Ruby Newell posing near sign that says "Cobargo: Population Strong!". Image: Jenny Newell
© Australian Museum

Ages: Recommended for 16+

Regional communities are feeling the impacts of climate change; disasters like bushfires, floods, and heatwaves are increasing in occurrence and severity, while power bills are fuelling the cost of living pressures. In times of crisis, connecting within our local community can often provide us with the support and resilience needed to take action.

Join us for this free panel discussion where you will hear from two regional New South Wales organisers who, upon being struck with climate disasters, took action within their communities to make a difference. Debra Summer from Renewable Cobargo and Serena Joyner from Bushfire Survivors For Climate Action will speak to their personal stories, and the grass-roots projects they are leading to ensure a safer and more stable climate for the future.

Claire O'Rourke, campaigner, change expert and author of Together We Can will be facilitating the conversation.

A workshop from members of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition will take place after the panel.

Debra Summer

Debra Summer, Cobargo community member.
Debra Summer. Image: Supplied
© Debra Summer

Debra Summer has been a Cobargo community member for over 21 years and has had a focus on building community capacity and connection. A trained Art of Hosting Practitioner, she has been hosting Cobargo Community Catch-up Gatherings since the Black Summer bushfires, bringing community together to find a way forward with a community led focus. Debra is Vice-President of the Cobargo Community Bushfire Recovery Fund and Community Representative of Cobargo Community Development Corporation. She is also a volunteer MP Liaison Officer for Cancer Council NSW across the Bega Valley Shire and Far South Coast, Trustee of the Crossing Land Education Trust, and has served on local committees and boards such as the Cobargo School of Arts Hall, and the Cobargo Folk Festival.

Serena Joyner

Serena Joyner
Portrait of Serena Joyner Image: Supplied
© Serena Joyner

Serena Joyner is CEO of Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action and has led the organisation through a period of growth, focusing on the group’s strengths of storytelling and personal advocacy. Serena is also the Convenor of the Climate Impacts Working Group for CANA (Climate Action Network Australia) and played a leading role in establishing the Climate Communities Alliance - a national advocacy network. Living in the Blue Mountains since 1998 with her volunteer firefighter husband and two children, Serena has witnessed first-hand the impact of bushfires on her community. She is determined to use her skills to elevate the voices of the climate impacted so they have enough seats at the decision-making table.

Claire O' Rourke (Moderator)

Claire O'Rourke
Portrait of Claire O'Rourke Image: Supplied
© Claire O'Rourke

Claire O'Rourke has 20 years experience in journalism, communications and campaigning in Australia and around the world. Claire has held a number of leadership positions, including most recently at Amnesty International Australia and as National Director of community-led renewable energy advocacy organisation Solar Citizens. She has a broad history of organising and campaigning in social movements and for organisations that deliver positive impact, including overseeing communications for Australia’s successful Every Australian Counts campaign for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

This event is presented as part of Climate Action Week Sydney and in partnership with the Nature Conservation Council. Explore the full program here.