It’s taken my sister nearly a week to enjoy a hot shower and start to enjoy an unrationed meal with her four kids that is not from a can. That’s what living in the hell zone of bushfires is like after they burnt much of the NSW South Coast and Victoria’s Gippsland regions.
Over a hundred thousand people have been displaced, hundreds of homes and critical infrastructure lost, millions of animals have died and at least 23 people have lost their lives since the fire season started – which has still got eight weeks to run.
It’s all too much and yet I can’t stop listening to it all. For me, the experience has served as a post Christmas reminder of what true luxuries really are, especially after splurging on all the things that we thought we really needed but really just wanted.
This is a wakeup call which has made me feel grateful for the health of my family, to be able to boil the kettle for a cup of tea, and to wash my children’s clothes after a day of play.
It’s also woken me to the realisation of the sad truth about money and how it has often been prioritised over people during this bushfire crisis.
In all my reading of Australian’s bushfire crisis there are two examples that will never leave me.
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison reportedly ignored a warning from a former Fire and Rescue Chief about a monster fire season to come, and failed to support funding to fire service organisations after being newly elected and in the wake of his first Federal Budget as PM. What’s clear is that Mr Morrison is a leader fixated more on achieving old school models of economic growth via mining, but he has proven that he lacks the heart needed to soothe much of a nation now in pain because of the bushfires and their environmental concerns for the future.
- The Major of Kangaroo Island Michel Pengilly, who told an ABC media interview that the Island was still open for business to tourists despite fires ripping across half of the island and soon after killing two men. What’s clear is that Mr Pengilly was more concerned about the economic repercussions of the bushfires rather than saving lives.
I like to think in both scenarios that these individuals just completely underestimated the threats that were in front of them.
Had they just put people first, the very people who elected them in the first place, over money concerns, then maybe the pictures that we see today would be very different. This is the wakeup call they need to heed.
For those wanting to donate to help with the bushfire crisis and fire services, some of the options include.