It has been almost 10 years since the Black Saturday bushfires devastated homes and lives across Victoria, including in the North East.
Indigo and Wangaratta councils are among 21 municipalities which can apply for grants to commemorate the anniversary in February next year.
Emergency Services Minister James Merlino announced yesterday the grants would come out of a $4.4 million fund to support a state memorial service, community commemorations, creative arts projects and mental health and psychological services.
He said the commemorations would allow bushfire-affected communities to support each other in remembering the victims of the disaster and acknowledge the brave first responders.
“These catastrophic events still impact on many of our communities today and it is important we allow those communities to commemorate this anniversary in their own way,” he said.
“Remembering these tragic events is important so we can honour those who died, those who lost their homes and were displaced, and the people who prevented further loss and destruction.”
“We look forward to working closely with bushfire-affected communities and local government over the next six months to ensure the commemoration of this time reflects the community’s wishes.”
The grants of up to $5000 will be available for commemorative events, restoration of Black Saturday memorials and community development activities.
Another $8000 per council area will be available from Regional Arts Victoria for arts projects which reflect community experiences during the 2009 bushfires.
John and Sue Wilson died trying to save their Mudgegonga home during the fires and other homes in Yackandandah and Stanley also came under threat.
The 10-year anniversary commemorations are expected to be an emotional time for those affected.
CFA Chief Officer Steve Warrington said the wellbeing of brigades, former members and communities was the top priority.
“Those fires changed the way we fight fires and the way we prepare the community,” he said.
“While this is a significant date of remembrance for the entire state, it is going to be challenging for the people, including emergency services, community and government employees, who were directly involved in the fires and their aftermath.”
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