Regional sitting pays tribute to community resilience

23 April 2024

Watch highlights of the Legislative Council regional sitting in the Echuca Library.

The losses suffered by a range of Victorian communities during the 2022 flood event and their brave responses to it were highlighted at the Echuca regional sitting of the Legislative Council held on 18 April 2024.

Moving a motion to acknowledge the devastating impact the floods had on communities in Victoria, Jaclyn Symes, Attorney-General and Member for Northern Victoria, began by offering condolences to the families, friends, co-workers and direct communities of the two people who lost their lives during the disaster.

Ms Symes noted there were more than 17,000 requests for assistance received by Victoria State Emergency Service between 12 October and 16 December 2022, and that is the most in their history for a single event. The event severely impacted more than 1000 properties, and more than 2000 people accessed emergency and temporary accommodation support.

Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes commended Victorian communities for their resilience.

‘Although there has been enormous tragedy and loss, I am incredibly proud of the communities and their response to the floods,’ she said. ‘There are a lot of resilient communities. We use the word ‘resilience’ a lot, but you see it when people rally together and really pull each other along.’

Member for Northern Victoria, Wendy Lovell told the Legislative Council that Rochester was the community that suffered the greatest impact during the floods.

‘Rochester is an amazing community that has come a long way but that also still faces many challenges,’ she said.

‘It is estimated that 18 months down the track over 30 per cent and probably closer to 40 per cent, or 600 to 800 residents, are still not back in their homes. It is also thought that about 200 homes have still not had any or have had very little work done to them, and in trying to rebuild, the residents have faced many challenges, including difficulties dealing with insurance companies and difficulties obtaining tradespeople.’

Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell said communities still faced challenges 18 months down the track.

Member for Western Victoria, Sarah Mansfield said the flood event took an enormous emotional toll that continues to this day.

‘Reducing the risk to people and property in the first place is critical,’ she said. ‘Apart from emissions reduction, we also need to rethink our planning system and stop allowing development that places people at direct risk of disasters like flooding.’

Gaelle Broad, Member for Northern Victoria, noted that while there has been a lot of rebuilding, subsequent flooding at Christmas and in January has brought many issues to the surface yet again.

‘Natural disasters are becoming more frequent and intense, and Victoria needs to be better prepared, particularly in regional areas that face the brunt of floods and bushfires,’ she said.

Members of the Legislative Council at the regional sitting held in the Echuca Library.

Many MPs spoke on the motion and the full debate can be read in the Hansard transcript for 18 April 2024.

See additional photos on the Echuca regional sitting webpage.


Photos: Cristie Lincoln Photography