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Driving action with absentee landowners
Monday 25 August 2014 – 3:00 PM
A street meet held in Meelup Hills near Dunsborough recently attracted an overwhelming turnout with an attendance of around 150 enthusiastic community members and absentee landowners.
The street meet is just one initiative in a series of community engagement activities aimed directly at absentee landowners, real estate agents and property managers, undertaken over the past year as a result of research DFES has conducted.
Community Engagement Director Suellen Flint said the research was carried out by Community Engagement and focussed on absentee landowners and their understanding and awareness of the bushfire threat.
“Over 850 absentee landowners from 10 communities in the Midwest Gascoyne, South West, Lower South West and Great Southern regions participated in the research, which also looked at absentee landowner’s barriers and drivers to property preparation,” Suellen said.
“As a result of what we discovered through the research we have now developed a working partnership with the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) and have worked with them to conduct briefings and participate in the South West Property Manager’s conference, attended by over 200 people.
“Community Engagement staff have also begun a visitation program to regional real estate agents promoting bushfire preparedness messages to tenants and owners.”
Direct action has been taken with absentee landowners with two open house activities conducted in the Perth Metropolitan area and the successful street meet in Meelup Hills. 
The street meet was run in conjunction with the City of Busselton and with support from local volunteers. It was evident from feedback collected on the day and via an online survey that the format, which included guided property walk throughs, was very effective.
The information covered ranged from preparing your property to how to stay informed and more than 94 per cent of responses indicated that participants would actively apply the knowledge they gained to prepare for the bushfire season.
Community Engagement Officer Stephanie Green said the initiative was a great start to the regional community engagement strategy that works to increase preparedness and engage the high absentee landowner population in the area.
As a result of this event secondary property owners and local community members have now signed up to the email distribution list and have been sent monthly updates and information regarding bushfire preparedness
“It is important to keep people up to date with helpful information on being bushfire ready, as well as letting them know about upcoming community events,” Stephanie said.
“This will hopefully increase their connection with the local community and in turn their overall resilience.”
The absentee landowner research is available on the Community Engagement intranet page or by contacting staff at communityengagementresources@dfes.wa.gov.au or on 9395 9816.