House debates

Monday, 8 February 2016

Statements by Members

Victoria: Bushfires

1:44 pm

Photo of Cathy McGowanCathy McGowan (Indi, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

Yesterday marked the 7th anniversary of the February 2009 bushfires. These fires claimed 170 lives and across the state 450,000 hectares were burned. More than 7½ thousand people were displaced and more than 3½ thousand homes, buildings and structures were destroyed—many in my electorate of Indi. A royal commission followed and recommendations led to improvement in warning systems, new guidelines for bushfire planning and building and a greater emphasis on community education and development of fire plans.

At the community level, people have shown their resilience. In King Lake, a group of women came together to provide 300 meals a day and support for those fighting the fires in the Murrindindi shire. After the fires, the King Lake FireFoxes formed: women rising together from Black Saturday. They have played a significant role in rebuilding the community, conducting women's leadership retreats, providing emotional support, working with the CFA and sharing their skills right around the nation.

The Rivers and Rangers Community Leadership Program was established to support regional leadership development in the Murrindindi and related shires. The result is stronger communities, better placed to face adversity. The 2009 fires were absolutely disastrous. Today I would like to place on the record my support and feelings for the families who were devastated and who lost loved ones during those fires. May they rest in peace and may they know that we have not forgotten them.