The following statement was read into Parliament by Emergency Services Minister Hon Fran Logan MLA today:
I take this opportunity to inform the house of Western Australia’s first Aboriginal community to have its own Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services unit. I was honoured to officially open the Bidyadanga community’s new VFES unit last week with the member for Kimberley, Josie Farrer, and the Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner, Darren Klemm. This is a fantastic achievement for Bidyadanga, which is about two hours south of Broome, and it will make a significant difference to not only the community’s safety, but also the safety of the surrounding area.
The 15 men and women who make up the unit are taking ownership of the risks to their community from the threat of bushfire as well as assisting with road crashes, searches and other emergencies. They are also involved in mitigation activities to reduce bushfire risk on their country. This unit and its members have made a significant difference to their community’s resilience. This new unit has already been put to the test. In the past six months, the Bidyadanga VFES has attended more than a dozen scrub and bush fires, as well as a truck fire on Great Northern Highway. The Bidyadanga light tanker also responded to 11 fires that threatened the community during the 2017– 18 northern fire season.
The journey to this historic first VFES unit began in 2011 and was not without some challenges. I personally acknowledge the hard work and dedication of everyone who came together to see this unit come into fruition, which included a lot of behind the scenes work with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services and the Bidyadanga community. This work included locating a suitable building and conducting remedial works to make the building fit for purpose and fully operational. This is a great achievement, and one that everyone should be extremely proud of. I have no doubt that the Bidyadanga VFES will continue to empower residents to protect local infrastructure if hazards threaten their community. It is a fantastic example of a remote community meeting its own safety needs as well as being there to help others in surrounding areas. DFES will continue to provide training and support to enhance the unit’s capabilities into the future. In closing, I acknowledge the ongoing efforts and collaboration between the Bidyadanga community, Bidyadanga VFES members and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services to ensure a safer community.