Praise for joint efforts

WORKING TOGETHER: DELWP officer Craig Hamilton with Bethanga Recreation Reserve president David Elder and the award. Picture: MARK JESSERA COUNTRY life makes one aware of fires, but that means more than just fighting them.
Nanjing Night Net

Projectsin Benalla and Bethanga won Victorian Fire Awareness Awards for their work in preventing incidentsor helping people afterwards.

Friends of Bethanga Creek, a group overseen by the Bethanga Recreation Reserve committee of management, took out the community-led prevention section.

Benalla Council claimed the recovery (industry) section for Rural Fire Tales, a documentaryfeaturing interviews with people affected by the Lake Rowan and Stewarton fires in December 2014.

Council officer Jan Osmotherly also received a $2000 fire services special incentive grant towardsfire recovery.

The annual Fire Awareness Awards, presented in Melbourne last week, are organised by Victoria’s three fire agencies, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Country Fire Authority and Department of Environment, Land, Water andPlanning.

Bethanga Recreation Reserve president David Elder said his group sprayed weeds around the creek ahead of a fuel reduction burn earlier this year that involved about 50 volunteers.

“Making it easier to manage, but also to make it a nicer space to be for the whole township,” he said.

“As a reserve we always wanted to clean it up.

“The idea is eventually we put a path into the bottom of the rec reserve, actually create a bit of a walking path along the creek as well.”

Mr Elder said the Friends group was pleased to be recognised with an award.

“Like all those things, everybody’s got to work together to make it work really well, which it did,” he said.

Benalla mayor Don Firth congratulated all those involved in creating Rural Fire Tales.

“The interviews provide a unique insight into the actions, responses and impacts experienced by the community and the resilience demonstrated by local people and volunteers in the aftermath and recovery,” Cr Firthsaid.

The documentary aimed to help therecovery of people impacted by thefire and also be a community education resource foremergencymanagement. Forty-three people aged between two and 78 years tookpart ininterviews about the grass fires, which affected 92 properties and burned 8316 hectares.

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