THE bushfire season may have ended a week ago, but Lismore MP Janelle Saffin says the plight of Northern Rivers and Northern Tablelands residents who lost homes, animals and property last year must not be forgotten.
Ms Saffin vowed to continue her sustained strong advocacy on behalf of many constituents to help them with a myriad of issues from site clean-up, insurance claims, temporary living arrangements, accessing bushfire recovery assistance, and planning to rebuild.
“It was an unprecedented bushfire season which caused a massive amount of destruction and damage in our local communities, and it has taught us hard lessons about the need for better preparedness and to build resilience into our planning for disasters,” Ms Saffin said.
“All of us are now dealing with COVID-19 restrictions for an unknown length of time, but I want to assure people still piecing their lives together after the fires that I am staying the course with them no matter what.
“I thank the former State Bushfire Recovery Coordinator Euan Ferguson, who has just stood down, for his service, and Northern NSW-Northern Tablelands Bushfire Recovery Coordinator Ross O’Shea, who has been there from the beginning.
“I also thank NSW Minister for Emergency Services David Elliott’s office for being responsive when I have taken sensitive and complex issues to them.”
Ms Saffin, who provides feedback to State agencies through regular bushfire recovery teleconferences, urged constituents who were still struggling with specific issues to contact her directly on 0418 664 001.
Earlier this year, Ms Saffin wrote to thank all NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers and other frontline responders for their tireless efforts in combating the catastrophic bushfires which ravaged parts of the Lismore Electorate for much of last year.
“I admire the way in which you put yourselves on the line to keep others safe and secure by doing everything possible to protect lives, homes, outbuildings, cars, livestock and land for weeks, and in some cases, months on end,” Ms Saffin wrote.
“I salute all of you for going way beyond the call of duty. I also thank your families who supported you while fighting fires locally, and more recently, in other regions of New South Wales.
“Having visited all of the fire grounds across my electorate and been briefed by key RFS personnel, I saw where every available resource was deployed to bring these fires under control. Sadly, lives were lost and hundreds of properties across our wider region were destroyed, but I know that this terrible human toll would have been far heavier without your brave work.
“… I respect the great tradition of volunteerism which is so important to the fabric of our Australian society and I mourn the loss of your fellow Australian and American firefighters this summer. Hopefully, your outstanding service to community will be formally recognised with the awarding of national medals at the appropriate time.”