The deep link between primary producers, local governments and volunteer bush fire brigades was highlighted this week when the Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades (AVBFB) President Dave Gossage thanked the State and Federal Governments for supporting farmers and others in Lake Grace, Ravensthorpe and Swan who were severely affected by flooding in January and February 2017.
Mr Gossage said that although some city-focused people questioned why the AVBFB would show its support for the funding, to those who understand the invaluable role of our amazing service, the need to support primary producers in our rural areas is pretty obvious.
“The link between primary producers and overall local resilience goes to the heart of why Western Australia needs an independent rural fire service (RFS),” Mr Gossage said.
“Many of Western Australia’s most vulnerable rural areas are also integral in delivering economic, tourism and cultural returns that benefit the whole of our diverse state.”
“Without primary producers, many of these critically important communities would be starved of what is essentially an ‘anchor tenant’ – one stakeholder that forms a foundation from which many others develop.”
“In small country towns, it is often local farmers that provide the first employment in the area, which in turn creates a demand for a local general store, then a food outlet and entertainment options and so on.”
“The Association is also acutely aware of the fact that many of the first-to-the-scene emergency service response in rural areas simply wouldn’t be possible without the human resources and other infrastructure provided by local farming communities.”
“All that doesn’t even take into account the substantial investment local primary producers often put in to the mitigation, resilience and recovery resources of the town – things that are mostly not funded at all by the government.”
“It’s therefore a shame that our support for the farming community might be questioned but it really goes to underline just how little they understand about the unique needs of our diverse and invaluable volunteer bush fire service,” Mr Gossage concluded.
Note: The joint Federal-State media statement announcing the NDRRA support can be found here.