Horsham fire recovery officer to be appointed

HORSHAM Rural City Council will appoint a fire recovery officer as it deals with the aftermath of last month’s bushfires.

Chief executive Peter Brown said council had swung into recovery mode.

“Council has been closely involved in the response to the fire from the start,” he said.

“In the response phase, council’s thoughts turned to preparing for and beginning the recovery process.

“This continues and is likely to continue for the next 12 months.”

Mr Brown said newsletters containing important information about clean-up, services, events and rebuilding were being regularly distributed to communities affected by the fires.

He said council had also submitted a number of applications for disaster relief funding.

Mr Brown said council would begin an in-depth review of its operations during the bushfire in the coming weeks.

“A review of the fire operations will be a DEPI matter, but council will have its own debrief as well,” he said.

Mr Brown said he would speak with DEPI officers about starting the process in a few weeks.

“The immediate aftermath is too soon,” he said.

“It’s still too raw. After a bit of time people make more considered remarks and I think you get more out of it.”

Cr Sue Exell said it was important to consult residents directly affected by the fires.

“All the services do such a great job,” she said.

“They really work hard together and have great plans put into place, but it’s also really important to talk to the residents when we get a chance.”

Cr Exell said it was important to learn from the experience.

“It looks like we’re going to have fires every year – we need to get really good at it,” she said.

Cr Heather Phillips urged her fellow councillors to talk to affected residents one-on-one.

“We can’t afford to just sit back and wait for residents to contact us, or rely on our staff to filter the information through to us as councillors,” she said.

“I think we need to take every opportunity we possibly can to go down to the Wartook-Laharum-Brimpaen-Dadswells Bridge communities and mix and mingle.

“That’s where you find out what’s actually happened on the ground.”

At Monday night’s meeting in Horsham, councillors praised the efforts of hard-working council staff who worked around the clock during the bushfires.

“I’d like to acknowledge the great work our staff have done – over and beyond the call of duty,” Cr Phillips said.

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