Member for Morwell Russell Northe yesterday paid tribute in the Parliament of Victoria, to the Gippslanders impacted by the fires of the summer of 2009 – including Black Saturday. These fires ravaged Victoria, leaving behind an unprecedented trail of death, destruction and devastation. There were many incidents, but the Delburn Complex and Churchill fires are events that are still so dreadfully raw for many in our community.
“Black Saturday is a rare day in our history where most Victorian’s can tell you where they were, who they were with, and what they were doing, when they first became aware of the emergency as it unfolded.” said Mr Northe.
“Today we remember the pure devastation of the Black Saturday Bushfires and the lasting effects it has had on the so many within the Morwell electorate. Communities including Callignee, Jeeralang, Traralgon South, Koornalla, Hazelwood North & Hazelwood South were impacted heavily”.
“For not only the Electorate of Morwell but for the State of Victoria, and indeed our nation – this was the worst fire event in history” Mr Northe said.
“The sheer magnitude of the experience is etched into the memory of survivors, helpers and witnesses many of them still recovering from the trail of loss, devastation and despair left in its wake”.
“Local CFA brigades and their personnel were truly miraculous, incredible – their courage astounding. Words cannot say how indebted we are to their work and as we commemorate and acknowledge the ten-year anniversary of their actions, it is not lost on me that they are out there right now currently fighting fires and protecting their local communities”, said Mr Northe.
“I also think it’s important to acknowledge the activities of many of the workers and volunteers that supported our community during this time. The men and women of the SES, Victorian Police, DSE, Paramedics, HVP fire crews, our Hospitals, the AFP, Latrobe City Council, St John Ambulance, Lifeline Gippsland, Government Agencies, Community Groups, Service Clubs, Charities, Businesses and Residents, and many more whose contributions were enormous in addressing the immediate, and long term safety and recovery needs of Gippslanders”.
“In addition, the leaders within our smaller communities impacted by the fires such as Hazelwood, Jeeralang, Traralgon South, Callignee, Boolarra and Yinnar, have been nothing short of inspirational and exceptional. Ten years after this terrible event, many of these same leaders remain steadfast in support of their people and their community”, Mr Northe said.
“We are all in their debt for their dedication, particularly during those tragic weeks ten years ago – thank you, just does not seem anywhere near enough”.
“It took a disaster for a lot of us to experience total generosity, selflessness, comradery, resilience, determination and community spirit like we’d never seen before. I’ve always been so proud of the people of my electorate for that. In the face of complete devastation, we bound together. Perhaps that is the take home message, ten years on – that no matter what the elements throw at us, the people of Morwell, the people of Victoria will always rise above the challenge.” said Mr Northe.