Mr NORTHE (Morwell) — Last Saturday marked the sixth anniversary of the Black Saturday bushfires that devastated many parts of Victoria. That 173 people lost their lives on that fateful day is difficult to comprehend, and in many communities the emotion and grief is still very raw. Within the Morwell electorate the impact of the Black Saturday bushfires and the preceding Delburn complex of fires in January of 2009 was profound. Hundreds of homes were razed, assets were lost, stock was destroyed and wildlife was devastated. Tragically 11 people were killed locally. Last Saturday was an opportunity to remember, reflect and mourn those loved ones.
On the day I was pleased to join with many local bereaved families in the opening of a memorial space in Victory Park, Traralgon. The memorial is located in a beautiful setting, and it was wonderful to witness many families in attendance, providing love and support for each other. Whilst it is difficult to know precisely what to say to those families still grieving, I can say that our community will continue to offer its support, prayers and best wishes.
Monday, 9 February, was also the first anniversary of the Morwell mine fire, which caused significant distress amongst our local community, in particular for Morwell residents. I wish to commend our emergency services personnel for their extraordinary dedication and courage during the period of the mine fire.
In addition one can only admire the resilience of our community and the efforts of our community leaders in times of adversity. Whether it be in Boolarra, Yinnar, Traralgon South, Jeeralang, Morwell or other towns that have endured traumatic events, our local leaders have really shone through when needed.