Recently appointed State Recovery Coordinator Major-General (retired) Stuart Smith has visited the most heavily impacted areas of the recent unprecedented bushfires that swept through Central Queensland.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said since Major-General Smith was appointed to the role on Sunday, he had spent time in Gladstone, Rockhampton and Mackay to identify where support was needed most.
“The Major-General’s visit to these areas is a crucial part of developing a coordinated response to Queensland’s worst bushfire disaster,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Records tumbled during days of heatwave conditions of 40 plus temperatures with raging winds fanning never-before-seen catastrophic fire conditions.
“Thousands of people in Central Queensland were affected by these fires and we’re continuing to work tirelessly to make sure help is made available to those impacted.
“By meeting with local groups and people, Major-General Smith is getting a thorough understanding of exactly where the help is needed to get everyone back on their feet.”
State Recovery Coordinator Major-General Stuart Smith said he visited Rockhampton on Monday, Gladstone on Tuesday and Mackay today.
“I have been shocked by the extent of the fire damaged areas and I feel for all those people impacted by this traumatic event,” Major-General Smith said.
“I commend all of the emergency services in Queensland and interstate as well as countless volunteers who responded to this event with courage and determination.
“I note the compassionate partnership that has been established between state government, local councils and charity agencies such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army at Recovery Centres.
Major-General Smith said recovery activities were already well underway including:
- More than 7,800 people have benefitted from the joint Commonwealth-State Disaster Funding Recovery Arrangements personal hardship grants with almost $1.4 million distributed.
- The Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors has had 144 community recovery workers at Recovery Hubs, Coordination Centres and community events including 25 staff in Gladstone area, 18 staff in Rockhampton area and 34 staff in Mackay.
- Six Community Recovery Hubs continue to operate in Eungella, Mackay, Gracemere, Baffle Creek, Miriam Vale and Mt Larcom.
- A total of 479 rapid damage assessments have been completed by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, with assistance from the Queensland Reconstruction Authority, across eight council areas.
The State Recovery Coordinator said the initial recovery priorities are to support the health and wellbeing of those impacted by the bushfires, restore private property and businesses and then repairing public facilities.
“It is also important that everyone remains vigilant and resilient for the remainder of the emergency season to withstand further fires, cyclonic rain or flooding should they occur,” he said.
Major-General Smith has more than 36 years in the Australian Military including operational command of an infantry battalion of 800 personnel on Peacekeeping operations in East Timor in 2003, and 3000 Australian Defence personnel in the Middle East and Afghanistan in 2012.
He was also Chief of Army Liaison Officer to the Senate Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (2002) and led the Australian Defence Force security support to G20 in Brisbane (2014).
The Premier also launched the Queensland Bushfire Appeal on the 30 November.
People can donate to:
- Australian Red Cross Society – www.redcross.org.au/disaster
- The Salvation Army – 13 SALVOS (13 72 58) – www.salvos.org.au (select ‘disaster relief)
- St Vincent de Paul Society of Queensland – (07) 3010 1002 – www.vinnies.org.au/donate
- UnitingCare Community – 1800 001 953 – www.uccommunity.org.au/disaster-relief
- Givit – www.givit.org.au