Over the last 18 months Victorians have been truly tested. From the long lockdowns to natural disasters, it is hard to imagine that things could get worse. The storm that hit the Dandenongs, Yarra Valley and the outer east of Melbourne four weeks ago was yet another test of our community’s strength and resilience.
The force of nature is devastating. It is easy to see how this could be, for some, the last straw. But, as we have seen so many times in the last 18 months, the spirit of our local community shone through.
In times of crisis, people’s first thoughts are often for others; family, friends, and even strangers all looking out for each other. It was clear on the night and into the next morning that our community was binding together.
As always, our volunteer CFA and SES crews were the first responders. Their tireless dedication to the recovery and relief effort was on display around the clock, with crews often having to stand down because the conditions were too treacherous to continue.
While for most, the power is back on and key local roads are clear, much still needs to be done. A whole host of local organisations and informal groups have since mobilised with precision and efficiency thanks to local knowledge, relationships and know-how.
As with any natural disaster, government plays a central role. All three levels of government have worked co-operatively to deliver assistance. Initially, my focus was to ensure the scale of the storm was well understood in Canberra, so that the affected areas of our community receive financial and practical assistance.
The Federal Government has provided Australian Defence Force personnel and is helping fund Disaster Payments and Recovery Allowances, while also working with the Victorian Government to support residents as they get their power back on. I continue to work with the team at Yarra Ranges Council as they co-ordinate the local response effort and I will continue to work with the Emergency Services Minister to deliver further support as it is needed.
Let’s not forget that it is the strength of our community that will guide us through this time. It is never easy to recover from something like this, but from what we have seen so far, it’s the care and concern for others that drives us. Long may it continue.