Like every Australian experiencing our nation’s bushfire disaster, I am broken-hearted by the loss of life, the devastation to local communities, the casualties of livestock and wildlife and the immense pain and suffering of so many of our fellow Australians. The impacts are so widespread that most of us will either have been affected in some way, or at least know someone who has been affected.
The scale of this event means that this is a national disaster. And the response therefore must be coordinated at a national level.
The bushfires have ripped at the very fabric of our regional and rural communities. Solutions to rebuild, repair and re-establish must be designed and delivered with community at their heart.
I’m humbled to have been asked by the Prime Minister to lead the National Bushfire Recovery Agency. It is a huge responsibility and I’m honoured to accept it.
It’s critical we get the recovery effort right to ensure communities get the support and services they desperately need.
This includes mental health and wellbeing support services to those who have suffered trauma and critical infrastructure rebuilding of roads and local businesses. We will help farmers, small businesses and local governments to get back on their feet.
It’s my job to work closely with all the relevant people and experts – at the national, state and local level – to make sure this is a successful, coordinated effort.
The Agency will operate for at least two years, and it will have a local focus. We won’t be bound to an office, it is our job to find out how best to provide support on the ground.
It’s early days for the Agency. But in the coming days we will be working quickly to establish operations and begin the task at hand.
I look forward to getting started and will have more to say in the coming days and weeks.