I want to remind this house of the 2019–20 bushfires as I continue to hear stories of people falling through the cracks, perhaps even forgotten.
Up and around Corryong there are concerns around mental health, fire preparedness, building approvals and closing in on two years after the event—the recovery itself.
I highlight the plight of Joe and Margaret Elias from the Thowgla Valley as but one example.
The Crown land behind their farm was scorched back in January 2020—the heat of the fire leaving little or no chance of plants and trees regenerating.
Now, with nothing to hold it together, the silt and debris from that Crown land is washed down in torrents through the Gingalaira Gully Creek after any significant rain event.
On the first weekend of September Mr Elias’s rain gauge topped out at 95 mm, the farm was inundated again.
It was the 15th time that this has happened since the fires.
The Eliases have put in their own silt traps to mitigate the damage. They say left unchecked, the silt, debris and water would destroy about 1 km of the Thowgla Road and flood their neighbours.
While the silt traps reduce the damage, they also need to be pulled out and replaced after each event. Mr Elias buys the silt traps, uses his own excavator to clean the creek and property and hires a dump truck contractor to put it into his paddock.
He says factoring in his time it costs about $5500 each time—more than $80,000 so far.
He says DELWP, North East Catchment Management Authority and Bushfire Recovery Victoria are sympathetic but ‘need a box to tick’ to get him help.
I know this collective re-visited Joe and Margaret last week and thank the Minister for Emergency Services in the other place for her support in this matter.
We must continue to find ways to help and use the money allocated to the recovery wisely, productively and purposefully.
The Upper Murray and other bushfire victims can’t be forgotten.