Multiple fires have burnt forests, private property and communities across Gippsland over the past fortnight. In the Bunyip State fire complex alone, more than 11,000 hectares were burnt, 29 homes lost and 67 buildings damaged or destroyed.
At the time of writing, I am so grateful to be able to say there have been no human lives lost in these fires. But for those whose farms were burnt or those watching on from neighbouring properties, it has been a terrifying experience.
The protection of human life must always be the absolute first priority, and the first step to reducing risk is a comprehensive, up-to-date fire plan. So, I encourage you to set a date each year before the fire season starts to revise your plan.
For the VFF and our members, animal welfare is often the second highest priority once the safety of humans has been assured. As a part of the formal reporting process, Agriculture Victoria has kept the VFF abreast of the unfolding situation, including the assessments Agriculture Victoria conduct to evaluate the fire impact on livestock and respond to any immediate animal welfare needs.
As the fire threat lessens in some areas, roads are being reopened and residents can return to their properties. To assist in the recovery process, the Lions Club Need for Feed initiative, the Cardinia Shire Council, and the VFF Cardinia and Peninsula Branches are coordinating a fodder drive to support farmers.
If you have been impacted by the fires, please visit the Need for Feed website to request assistance. If you’re able to donate fodder or volunteer with the transport of fodder, please also visit the Need for Feed website. If you have damaged fencing, please contact BlazeAid to request assistance with the clean-up and rebuild of fences.
- David Jochinke, VFF president