House debates

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Statements by Members

Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements

1:42 pm

Photo of Rebekha SharkieRebekha Sharkie (Mayo, Centre Alliance) Share this | | Hansard source

This week the bushfires royal commission is scheduled to release its report, and my community, like many communities, is eagerly awaiting the recommendations. Hundreds of homes and outbuildings were destroyed in the fires in the Adelaide Hills and on Kangaroo Island, but our communities are resilient. Despite the double blow of fires and then COVID, recovery is happening.

This week we say a farewell to the BlazeAid volunteers who have been working in the Adelaide Hills. These amazing volunteers—who I'm told are of an average age of 68 years—started working with our residents in January. In the ensuing months, around 1,000 came and went, erecting more than 200,000 kilometres of fencing and helping more than 400 properties. The Kangaroo Island BlazeAid is still open and the volunteers are still working—rain, hail or shine. They're a real morale booster to our community.

Local CFS brigades are also enjoying renewed support. CFS data shows 887 new volunteers have signed up between January and October this year—the biggest annual increase in recruitment since 2015, when my community experienced the Sampson Flat fire.

The royal commission will no doubt make many recommendations about how we need to manage the growing threat of more frequent and intense fire behaviour. But, today, I would like to thank all the volunteers who have reached out to help the community—my community; our community—in our recovery journey.