Heart goes out
My heart goes out to everyone impacted by the recent fires; especially those I knew as a young teacher, 35 years ago. In 1982, I taught at Garvoc so was quite concerned to hear that area was fire-affected. I send you all my very best wishes. An Ash Wednesday bush-fire victim myself when my Ayreford Road home, treasured photos, letters and other belongings were destroyed (while taking cover under a blanket in Ubie's irrigation paddock with Pat & their kids), after evacuating my Nullawarre North students, I truly feel for you. I hope the strength of community, that helped us get through those dark days remains to help you cope too. I fondly remember the many families who befriended me during my years teaching at Elingamite North, Garvoc, Nullawarre North and Nirranda South, in the 1980s, and remain grateful for the support received from those, and nearby, communities as well as family and friends from Mooroolbark to Heywood. Although life took me away, you remain in my thoughts so I wish you well at this challenging time and always. Good luck and thank you.
Sue Couch, Buronga, NSW
It is no doubt that transferring two large Warrnambool fire trucks to Koroit and Terang last Saturday did save assets. And I commend the controllers for doing so. But the 14,000 hectares of fires we put out by the pilots dropping water and the hundreds of volunteer CFA members was significant. These volunteers are still out there damping down and responding to flare ups. They do not want thanks as they see it as their duty to respond to the community needs. The other factor in the response was the emergency app that alerted most people to the situation. Yes some people were evacuated, in hindsight that did not need to go, but given the velocity of the fires it is better to leave and complain than attend funerals.
Lynda Avery, Peterborough
Community spirit shines
I’ve always said we have the best community in the country – the events of last weekend have made me even surer of that. In the face of adversity, the community has been there, making sure those impacted by the fires are supported and looked after. It began when the fires first started on Saturday night – people were going around knocking on doors of people directly in the line of the flames, making sure their neighbours were awake, aware and safe. I’ve been told stories of firefighters on trucks for 13 and 14 hours straight trying to stop the spread of the flames, catching an hour of sleep here and there when they could. Often leaving their own homes to protect the properties of their neighbours. Our local media mobilised, ensuring everyone was kept up to date and informed of what was happening right through the night and in the days that followed. The offers of stock feed, help to re-build fences and help with the clean-up have not stopped rolling in. The community has ensured our firefighters and emergency service personnel have been well fed and looked after. The stories of generosity are incredible, but they haven’t surprised me – it’s what happens in this community time and time again, when people are doing it tough we rally together and help them through.
Roma Britnell, Member for South West Coast
Support our farmers
Our thoughts are with farmers and communities in Victoria’s south-west who now face the prospect of assessing the damage from the weekend’s bushfires. All credit must go to our emergency service personnel and community members who worked tirelessly to bring these fires under control. Your efforts ensured no resident was left behind and that there was no loss of life, despite extreme conditions. The coming days and months will be incredibly difficult as livestock losses and injuries are assessed and our farmers and communities determine the full impact of loss of livestock, property and farm infrastructure. With the fire scorching pasture at hundreds of farms across 15,000 hectares, a fodder drive established by the Victorian Farmers Federation will provide much needed supplies and I urge those who can to donate. Every available support must be extended to our dairy farmers, livestock farmers and community members who face the heartbreaking prospect of rebuilding their lives.
Peter Walsh, Leader of The Nationals
Road trauma help
Last week's terrible accident involving a truck and stationary vehicles north of Portland reminds us all of the necessary risk we accept by driving on rural roads. Driving on these roads is something we take for granted, but there would be very few of us who have not felt the impact of road trauma rippling out from the injuries and deaths of family, loved ones, friends, colleagues or acquaintances over the years. Like all trauma, it can be triggered to return to our thoughts again and again. The Road Trauma Support Services of Victoria (rtssv.org.au 1300 367 797) is a non-profit organisation which exists to offer free counselling to anyone affected by road trauma in Victoria. Callers do not need a referral, and counsellors trained specifically in dealing with the effects of road trauma can assist in a supportive and confidential manner, for as long as it takes. Grief can be a very private emotion, but there are people waiting to help shoulder the burden if and when you feel that the time is right for help.
Rhys Tate, Woodford
Duck hunting opposition
Duck hunting is no longer ‘a legitimate recreational activity ‘ as claimed by Nationals leader Peter Walsh (The Standard 17/3/18). It’s an archaic practice that fitted the 19th and 20th centuries and should now be consigned to the historical scrapheap where it belongs. As an ALP member I find it disappointing that the Andrews government is still pandering to a rapidly diminishing minority on this issue for misguided political reasons. At a well attended Warrnambool ALP branch meeting last November the following resolution was overwhelmingly adopted: “That the Warrnambool branch of the ALP calls on the Andrews government to not proceed with the proposed duck shooting season in 2018 and beyond. Such an activity is regarded as a relic of the past with no place in a modern and progressive Victoria. It represents an outrageous assault on our native wildlife and is highly damaging to our wetlands and wider environment. Finally any initiative that lessens the number of firearms in our society should be supported.” While we didn't succeed this time, overwhelming public support will ultimately win out on this and future generations will wonder why it took so long.
Tony Delaney, Warrnambool