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05 December 2017

2017 Victorian Fire Awareness Awards

Indigo Shire Council's Community Recovery Coordinator, Karen Van Huizen, and members of the Indigo Valley Bushfire Community Recovery Committee have received the Recovery Award in the 2017 Victorian Fire Awareness Awards.

The awards are presented by Forest Fire Management Victoria, the Country Fire Authority and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade to recognize all aspects of community fire awareness, preparedness, education and innovation.

The Barnawartha-Indigo Valley Community was also a finalist for the top award, the $10,000 RACV Award for Excellence.

The Indigo Shire Mayor, Cr Jenny O'Connor, said the 20 December 2015 bushfire was a large, fast-moving fire affecting the Barnawartha and Indigo Valley communities.

"More than 100 properties were affected, including the loss of three homes, 30 sheds and farming structures, nine water tanks, 46 vehicles, two bridges, vineyards, fences, stock, pasture and feed," she said.

"The population of 306 was deeply affected, but pulled together in amazing fashion to lead a courageous community recovery effort."

Communication was identified as the key to ensuring community safety and the committee was determined to ensure no one was "left out of the loop" with planning, decision-making and preparing for bushfires.

Communications would also prove vital in allowing community members to support each other before, during and after this and similar events.

Community phone trees adopted connect people up and down the Valley. With support from Indigo Shire Council, regular newsletters provided support and information and continue to be published monthly in the community. The Indigo Valley Community Facebook page also shares information about events, fire season preparation and recovery activities.

"The Barnawartha and Indigo Valley communities continue to be engaged -- learning from the past and preparing for the future," Cr O'Connor said.

"They have forged strong and lasting support networks with representatives of Indigo Shire Council; Department of Health and Human Services; Country Fire Authority; Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning; Parks Victoria; Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources; North East Catchment Management Authority; and Emergency Management Victoria.

"This award is fitting recognition for the skill, effort and commitment of a remarkable Indigo Shire community."

The awards were presented on Monday 4 December at the RACV City Club in Bourke Street Melbourne, where finalists celebrated alongside industry and government representatives. The evening was hosted by ABC Radio Victoria presenter Warwick Long, and the guest speaker, award-winning Australian writer, editor and anthologist Bruce Pascoe. See for details.


For further information:
Contact Cr Jenny O'Connor
Phone 0417 126 409