Army ‘needs bigger role’ after bushfires

Army ‘needs bigger role’ after bushfires

20 July 2009

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Australia — The military should be better used in future bushfire disasters, the head of Victoria’s bushfire recovery says.

Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority chief Christine Nixon says the army is equipped to help out quickly in recovery efforts, but was not used enough during the February fires.

“I’d get more of the army in,” Ms Nixon told the Emergency Management Conference on Monday when asked about future bushfire seasons.

The army can help in sheer manpower like transporting water, she said, or through assisting thousands of displaced residents.

Military members could be dispatched to fire zones days earlier than they previously have been.

About 25,000 people have so far been supported through the Bushfire Recovery and Reconstruction Authority.

While most of the clean-up since Black Saturday is complete, some survivors are suffering from “fire brain” where they haven’t decided if they even want to rebuild or move elsewhere, Ms Nixon said.

She said bushfire recovery needs to be focused on communities and these people.

“It’s all about the people – we lost so many of them.”

A total of 173 people were killed in the February 7 bushfires.

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