Tuesday, 23 February 2021
Statements by Members
Western Australia: Bushfires
Earlier this month my community commemorated the 10-year anniversary of the Kelmscott-Roleystone bushfires. It was especially poignant this year. The anniversary came just days after the bushfires in Perth's north-eastern suburbs in which some 86 homes were destroyed. In 2011, 71 homes were lost in our hills and 39 more were badly damaged, including my parents' home, where I grew up. Many lives were affected forever and 517 families continue to live with the trauma of being evacuated. Many in our community remember it as a horrific day and are still haunted by the smell of smoke and the sound of helicopters. Many also struggled with claiming insurance, some for years, as they fought to rebuild their lives and homes.
Adversity really does bring out the best in us, though. For many locals, that terrible occasion has resulted in some lifelong friendships. For this, we can be proud and thankful. There were lessons learnt, too, and the resulting inquiry has seen changes like mapping bushfire-prone suburbs and changes to building standards, ensuring homes can be better prepared in the future.
This experience also gives us great empathy for the other communities affected by fire across our state and nation. So many in our community, including my brother John, were inspired to join a volunteer fire brigade to help prevent what happened to them from happening to anyone else. I know these same individuals who formed the Roleystone bushfire brigade and other volunteer brigades were among the professionals and volunteers fighting the fires in our north suburbs three weeks ago. Thank you to them.