Fiona Phillips: One year on
One year on from the start of the Currowan bushfire, it is so important for us to look back, not only at the hard times and the sad times, but also at the positive things that we have seen and the strength our community has shown.
In the immediate aftermath of the bushfires, I spent every day in our community talking with people about what they had been through. I heard the harrowing stories of local people, local farmers, local business owners – raw and emotional, just looking for someone to listen. Someone to help.
I also saw community stepping into the space where government should have been – the Batemans Bay Surf Club, the Lake Conjola Community Centre and The Hive Kangaroo Valley, among others, turning into donations hubs. Every day locals doing what they could. I spent almost every day of the bushfires at fire control, witnessing firsthand the awe-inspiring work of our first responders, government agencies, local councils, utility companies, media outlets – so many people working tirelessly every single day to help and protect our community. It was humbling, and it made me so proud.
That is what I have continued to feel every day since – proud. We still have a long way to go, but our community is stronger than ever. The truth is, we have each and every member of our community to thank for getting us through this year, with all the challenges it has brought.
I have never been prouder to call the South Coast home. With everything our young people have experienced this year, the case for a full headspace for Batemans Bay has never been clearer. I have championed this service for many years and I was pleased when the government matched my commitment for the service at the last election. Since the bushfires, I have pushed hard for that funding to be brought forward, so it was a very special day early in November when I joined with headspace and the Primary Health Network Coordinare to announce the new site for this much-needed service.
Positioned beautifully across from the Clyde, right in town, I know the new headspace service will make a significant difference to the lives of our young people and I am thrilled to see it moving forward.
There is so much happening along the Bay’s foreshore this year – and it is definitely getting noticed. The Governor of NSW, the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, has taken a particular interest in our magnificent sculpture display and it was my honour to join with the committee and the community in welcoming Her Excellency to officially open the latest two sculptures – Family by Ron Gombok and Fracture 2 by David Ball. These wonderful additions to our foreshore help to show some of the joy and resilience local people have shown this year and it was a beautiful day to see them officially opened.
Our tourism industry has been hit hard this year and I want to ensure that we are doing everything we can to encourage tourists back to the area.
The Batemans Bay Coastal Headlands Walking Trail and Observation Point Viewing Platform is a project that has long been supported by council and will now be made a reality thanks to $5,250,000 in joint Federal and State funding. There’s no doubt our coast is one of our best assets – this 30 kilometre walking track and lookout will be a special addition to our tourism landscape and I can’t wait to see it open!
We already know how special our community is, and I absolutely love showcasing the positive things happening throughout the South Coast. The Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund has been extended until the 28 January 2021.
Grants are available to a wide range of community organisations including not-for-profits for infrastructure projects up to $20 million and environmental projects up to $4 million.
This is a great opportunity to make the ideas of the community a reality, to strengthen community resilience and reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Further information is available at https://www.nsw.gov.au/regional-nsw/bushfire-local-economic-recovery-fund
If you need any help or want more info, please contact my office on 4423 1782 Fiona Phillips, Federal Member for Gilmore