As I watched the ABC's Big Weather last week, with Craig Reucassel timing a family's mock bushfire preparation drill, it transported me back to a not-so-hypothetical evacuation on New Year's Eve.
As flames from the Clyde fire tore towards our home in Rosedale on the NSW South Coast, my partner Cath and I found ourselves in a nightmare that was all too real.
Just like in Big Weather, the ABC was present in our home too. Since the beginning of the crisis, we were constantly tuned in to our local radio station, listening to the round-the-clock flow of factual bushfire information which literally saved our lives.
In the midst of a fast-moving emergency, the calm, measured tones of ABC reporters as they shared updates on the bushfire front also helped us think clearly about our next steps. But despite our best efforts to defend our house, the flames were too overpowering. Sadly, our home of 13 years burned to the ground.
As we rebuild using new fire-proof technology and rent a cottage in town, we are also thinking about a plan for this coming fire season. Tuning into ABC 103.5FM will be one of the first things on the list, along with checking the Fires Near Me app regularly.
But the most significant step I have taken to keep my family and community safe from the threat of worsening bushfires isn't on that list. After losing my home, I took early retirement from my aged care job to join the climate fight. I campaign to transition Australia's economy away from coal, oil and gas - the key drivers of climate change - towards renewable energy solutions that will create thousands of jobs, bring down energy prices, and keep our community safe.
Unfortunately, the federal government has chosen the interests of its mates in the fossil fuel lobby over our safety, and backed a gas-led coronavirus recovery that will make climate change impacts - like deadly bushfires - worse. I'll continue to fight for a safe climate and bright future for Australians, but I also want to remind everyone of the value of strong, independent media institutions. The ABC has been life-saving during emergencies, and brought the climate change conversation to life for Australian families with shows like Fight for Planet A and Big Weather.
Regional broadcasters and newspapers like the one you're reading right now are also a lifeline for communities, delivering local news about issues that shape our lives. We must fight for a transition away from fossil fuels and support our trusted local media institutions with the same conviction. A win on both fronts would be good news indeed.
Jack Egan is a bushfire survivor.