With his dams sitting empty, Toothdale's dairy farmer Phil Ryan needs rain before the next fire season or he may be forced to close his doors.
Mr Ryan will take part in Tuesday's Farmers for Climate Action online Bega meeting, which will include retired Fire & Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins, clinical psychologist Rob Gordon and the agricultural advocacy group's CEO Wendy Cohen as guest speakers.
"Going in to summer next year won't just be scary, it will be impossible to keep going without rain," Mr Ryan said.
"We've had three years now with no winter rain, and it will be nasty if we don't get at least 100 to 200 millimetres to fill dams."
Mr Ryan has been pushing for water policy change via a local water users group, and said while farmers have been listened to by politicians, he has seen "no policy movement" in areas including regulations on how much water can be stored on properties.
I think as a community we will be ready to handle the next fire season. You desperately hope that we are better prepared.- Dairy farmer Phil Ryan
"I've had a belief we should do what we can to manage climate change for most of my life," Mr Ryan said.
"I think one of the key things is that there are a whole lot of broader policies that could be introduced, not just an attack on carbon pollution. Which I'm not necessarily against either.
"Policies are needed to capture water during dry periods."
He said since the unprecedented bushfire emergency he has "basically not had a day off", and said farmers are "focusing on immediate tasks" as they prepare for the winter months.
"I think things are different for everybody, but some of the emotional trauma probably hasn't been dealt with," he said.
"I would like to see a lot of people involved in the meeting, but the fact its online may not give it the same community impact. There are farmers I know who are skeptical.
"I think as a community we will be ready to handle the next fire season. You desperately hope that we are better prepared."
Mr Mullins fought the recent summer bushfires in and around Batemans Bay, and said previous bushfire inquiries have "put to death" any denial climate change is worsening bushfires around the world.
He was one of 23 former fire and emergency leaders who claim they tried for months to warn Prime Minister Scott Morrison of the nation's need for more water-bombers to tackle bushfires like the recent "Black Summer" fires.
"We've always had bad fire seasons, but they are now just six years apart," he said.
"We've now got a real opportunity to pivot the economy to renewables and become a superpower.
"My thoughts are you can't really adapt to what's coming. We've been outgunned by an enemy. We've made mother nature an enemy.
"It is a worldwide problem and we've lost ten more homes than we did in our previous worst season in 2013. We've never had weather like we've had."
He said the meeting will discuss ideas including the construction of refuges in small communities "because most people die trying to flee".
I do feel frustrated, and wish they [the government] would listen, but it would not have really changed the outcome that much. Although it might've saved lives.- Retired Fire & Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins
"We need programs to make critical infrastructure safer and tougher. Community wise we should be talking about safer places, and have a plan."
Mr Mullins said the issue of energy security during natural disasters is critical, and said underground powerlines would be a step in the right direction.
"[While fighting the recent fires] we couldn't refill our trucks with fuel because petrol pumps need electricity and the power was out. We had to get generators to keep the trucks going," he said.
"At some point it will be cheaper to put powerlines underground.
"You can't get information without the internet and radio. Pumping, sanitation, and food are also affected.
"These are things all levels of government and individuals need to do."
He said political leaders are likely feeling "a lot of regret" about the handling of the bushfire emergency, and the group of former fire and emergency leaders have made a submission to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.
"I do feel frustrated, and wish they [the government] would listen, but it would not have really changed the outcome that much. Although it might've saved lives.
"Everyone knew the South Coast was a ticking timebomb."
Dr Gordon, who has worked with communities after the Bali bombings, the Christchurch earthquake, and the Ash Wednesday and Black Saturday bushfires, said fire-affected residents should focus on their families and social connections.
"All of these events are just massively disruptive, but we have to get the focus back to our irreplaceable resources. In essence, it's not about money or concrete, but the preservation of people's social lives," he said.
The 2014 Senior Australian of the Year nominee has contributed to new approaches to community engagement during the critical stages of recovery.
Put your energy into what you can't replace - your family.- Clinical psychologist Rob Gordon
"I have developed a model of community processes triggered by a disastrous event, and how it changes community structure," Dr Gordon said.
"A lot of it we don't think about because it's our day-to-day routine. We can drop into an improvised structure to survive the event."
Dr Gordon describes this part of a person's experience as the "state of fusion".
"It is unsustainable for the long term. There's tension and conflict after the disruption, especially in families and workplaces," he said.
"The cleavages or conflicts can open up and things can fall apart. A social system without boundaries will create boundaries through conflict."
His approach is to share an "understanding of the big picture", and he works with communities to help with resilience - a concept he says is more important than ever with climate change moving "rapidly".
"It's a very pervasive but slow motion crisis," he said.
"The more small rural communities can understand it the better."
Dr Gordon said the understanding of the impacts of traumatic events on communities is important for "local government and formal and informal service providers", which was reinforced after he returned to meet with "Black Saturday" survivors ten years after the tragedy.
"Even a decade later many people are still working at it, and the economic effects are still being felt," he said.
With people in survival mode during and after extreme events, Dr Gordon said certain parts of the brain are activated and others become less active.
"You can see people can't make decisions because when you are under stress you are organised for action which doesn't help with things like filling out forms," he said.
He said research into the after effects of Hurricane Katrina in the United States and the Japanese tsunami, shows "social capital" is more important than "spending money" on communities.
"Put your energy into what you can't replace - your family," he said.
"One man in Victoria told be he had spent five years rebuilding his house, and in that time his marriage broke down and he now only sees his children once a fortnight. He didn't invest in his family.
"We have to get the focus back to our irreplaceable resources.
"Things like not spending time with your kids can lead to issues five years down the track.
"A lot of things are easy to avoid if you hold on to the core structures.
"The essence of resilience means that you've got a core structure that can flex and deform without losing their original function."
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