Adjournment - Western Victoria Fires

06 March 2024

Martha HAYLETT (Ripon) (19:07): (564)

My adjournment matter is for the attention of the Minister for Emergency Services in the other place, and the action I seek is that the minister joins me in my electorate to thank the Raglan fire brigade and other emergency services members and volunteers who worked tirelessly to protect locals during the recent bushfires. There were so many agencies and support services that worked around the clock to support our region in its time of need. This included over 2000 volunteer firefighters, Forest Fire Management Victoria teams and 20 aircraft that contained the fire. Without them, lives would have been lost, and we are all eternally grateful for all that they did.

I want to thank Rachael, Robyn, Melissa, Jane, Sherryl and Jenny from the Warrak hall, who helped make sandwiches and meals for emergency services crews, and all the incredible locals who helped feed volunteers in between shifts at the Elmhurst community hall. A big thankyou to all the council staff at relief centres in Ararat, Maryborough and Ballarat, who cared for people and their pets so beautifully. A shout-out to Tim, Mel, Paula, Jo, Paul, Chandra, Emma, Koyeh, Anita, Charlie and Phillipa from Ararat Rural City Council; to Emma, Belinda, Colleen, Sharlene, Kerry, Krystle, David and Sylvia from Central Goldfields Shire Council; and to the over 40 staff from the City of Ballarat. Together they supported a total of 429 people from across our region with food, clothes, warm beds, dinner vouchers and even facepainting stations for the kids. I also want to thank Wayne Rigg, who is an absolute legend – he helped set up the Ballarat base camp for 300 firefighters – and Brett Boatman, who worked around the clock as the CFA’s west region deputy chief officer to support brigades on the ground.

In times of crisis people’s compassion and sense of community shines bright. We saw this in Brock and Adam, firefighters who stopped and hydrated local wildlife by putting water in their helmets; Dan from Creswick, who offered up his cottage to Suzanne from Raglan after she lost her house; and all the CFA members from across districts 15 and 16 who made us all so proud. Our community is tired and they are devastated, but they are so grateful for all the resources that have been thrown their way too. They had each other’s backs during the fires, and I will be there with them as they recover from it all.