VICTORIAN parliament paused last Thursday to remember the 10th anniversary of the 2009 bushfires, which claimed the lives of 173 people.
Addressing parliament, Member for Euroa Steph Ryan paid tribute to the resilience of the Wandong, Heathcote Junction and Redesdale communities and the bravery of those who found themselves facing the worst disaster in the country’s history.
“Black Saturday and the days and weeks around it are seared into the minds of those who lived their devastation,” Ms Ryan said.
“The response to this year’s anniversary has been mixed in the community.
“Some want to remember it in the company of loved ones. Many would simply prefer to forget.
“The Kilmore fire developed into one of the largest fire complexes, taking the lives of 119 people and injuring 232 others. It engulfed 1242 homes and more than 125,000 hectares of land.
“There were so many firefighters, SES personnel and community members on the ground that day who tried to achieve the impossible: whether it was emergency services or whether it was a neighbour; communities rallied to help each other despite being under the greatest of threats.
“Our community will forever be grateful to those extraordinary people and for the support too that flowed in from around the state and around the world in the weeks, months and years following.
“This anniversary is a time to recommit ourselves to ensuring we never allow ourselves and the Victorian people to forget the lessons that we learned in the most awful of circumstances.
“On behalf of the Euroa electorate, I extend our love and support to those who lost loved ones and to the communities who were impacted that day.
“Your experience is one which must never be forgotten.”
Ms Ryan attended the commemorative event at the Wandong Heathcote Junction Memorial Park on Saturday, February 9. She is also attending the unveiling of the Redesdale water tower mural on February 22 at 3pm. All welcome.