Bushfire victims are still being ignored and this must change

Janet Reynolds

Bushfire victim Janet Reynolds is one of the forgotten survivors and prepared to do something about it. She has joined up with GetUp in a campaign to force the Morrison government to honour its promise to help. Donations are needed to help raise the money to pay for this effort. Janet wrote the following.

The Bushfire Royal Commission was just made its finding public, and they are unequivocal: We desperately need to prepare our communities for more frequent and severe bushfires driven by climate change in the years to come.

It exposed the gaps in how financial assistance is given to people like me, and the hoops we have to jump through to get that support.

And yet, when my local MP asked the Morrison Government why it hasn’t given our community any of the $200 million in bushfire support it promised months ago, they claimed there’s “no need to spend” it.

No need? Everywhere I look there’s need. Two years after a bushfire upended my life, I still live in a caravan on the site of my burned-down home.

In Cobargo, where I was a primary school teacher, people are still living in tents. Others, like me, are living in caravans and sheds. Elsewhere, families and businesses are waiting indefinitely for help that was promised months ago.

Like many of you, I remember vividly the moment Scott Morrison turned his back on a woman in Cobargo as she asked his government for help. Now that the cameras and journalists have moved on from his big promises of support, he’s turning his back on us again.

But GetUp has a plan to turn public attention back to our communities, so Morrison can’t hide from his broken promises and the people they’re hurting.

First, a team of expert researchers and journalists will expose exactly how much assistance has been promised and then denied to survivors. Then, they’ll produce a high-production video series of bushfire survivors sharing our ongoing struggles with people across the country.

Two years ago, I fled my home of 27 years as bushfires tore through Numbugga. I left behind a house filled with memories and pictures from my youth, irreplaceable memories of my life in Africa before I moved to Australia, and hand-written letters from children I taught over the years.

When your home is destroyed in a bushfire, you don’t just lose it once: you lose it every single day, when you wake up and remember all the things you no longer have.

I can’t get any of these things back. But I can make sure that bushfire affected communities like mine get the help Scott Morrison promised them months ago, when the cameras were here. With your help, we’ll bring the cameras back and show the country the human cost of his broken promises.

After Morrison failed our communities in his response to the bushfire crisis, he announced $2 billion in bushfire support and promised that: “If further funds are required, further funds will be provided.”

Now that the media attention has moved on, Morrison seems to have forgotten all about that promise.

But with expert journalists and video producers, we can tell the human stories behind the headlines. It’ll highlight the strength of our communities as we rebuild our lives from the ground up and put names and faces to the thousands who are still waiting for promised support to finally arrive.

Together, we can show Scott Morrison that he needs to fulfill his promise to communities like mine so we can finally rebuild and thrive.

Many of you reading this have shown support for bushfire survivors in the past, and I’m grateful for that. Knowing this movement is behind my community is a source of strength that makes it easier to move forward every day.

And to my fellow survivors who’ve also felt the effects of fires firsthand, my thoughts are with you. We’ll get through this together.

1 Comment on "Bushfire victims are still being ignored and this must change"

  1. I pull be happy to share our story. We lost our family home on New Years Eve 2019, and have fought burocracy every day since.

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