Inquiry Focuses on Impact of Australian Bushfires

By AAP
May 25, 2020 Updated: May 25, 2020

The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements hearing is focusing on the impact of the Black Summer bushfires on people and communities.

The head of a royal commission says it has not forgotten the devastation caused by the Black Summer bushfires and their ongoing impact.

Opening the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements hearings, chair Mark Binskin acknowledged many communities are still grieving.

“The tragic loss of life, the destruction of homes, the significant loss of livestock and millions of hectares of forest has been devastating and continues to deeply affect people and their recovery,” he said.

The royal commission will on Tuesday focus on the impact of the 2019-20 bushfires on people and communities.

The witnesses include the Australian Red Cross programs director Noel Clement.

The charity faced criticism over the slow rollout of bushfire donations, saying it was retaining some funds for a minimum three-year recovery program in affected communities.

Earlier this month, the Red Cross said more than 4000 people had so far received about $80 million in assistance.
Other witnesses on Tuesday include experts on the medical and mental toll of bushfires as well as the financial complaints and small business ombudsmen.

The royal commission will also hear pre-recorded accounts from two Mallacoota locals, including its school principal.
Thousands of people fled to Mallacoota’s beach after the Victorian town was cut off by bushfire.

More than 1500 people were evacuated by the Australian Defence Force, making it Australia’s largest peacetime humanitarian rescue mission since Cyclone Tracy.

The bushfires killed 33 people, destroyed about 3100 homes and burned about 12 million hectares across Australia.

By Megan Neil