Bushfire Recovery Volunteers Named Victoria's Local Heroes

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16th November 2009, 11:30pm - Views: 947

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16 November 2009

Bushfire recovery volunteers named Victoria’s Local Heroes

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) tonight congratulated Blaze Aid

founders, Kevin and Rhonda Butler, for being honoured as Victoria’s Local Hero in the

lead-up to the 2010 Australian of the Year Awards.

DIAC is once again proud to sponsor Australia’s Local Hero Award and to celebrate the

extraordinary work of ordinary Australians who make their local community a better

place. Next year is the 50th anniversary of the Australian of the Year Awards.

Mr and Mrs Butler, from Kilmore East, received the award for their leadership in the

Victorian bushfire recovery efforts by establishing Blaze Aid – a charity which

coordinates an army of volunteers who are helping to rebuild rural fences and the spirits

of bushfire victims.

“Mr and Mrs Butler are outstanding citizens who inspire us with the passion they have

for this country and its people,” a DIAC spokeswoman said.

“Following the devastating Black Saturday bushfires they were overwhelmed with offers

of assistance to rebuild their farm’s destroyed fences.  Once their own stock was

secured, they were determined to help others do the same, so they established the

Blaze Aid charity.”

Blaze Aid has received donations of money, tools, equipment, food, accommodation,

transport and hands-on support for its team of some 2700 local and international

volunteers who have replaced a total of 400 km of fences on 70 properties in the

Kilmore-Kinglake region.

“Australia’s Local Hero Award acknowledges dedicated citizens such as Kevin and

Rhonda who work tirelessly to make the lives of those around them that little bit better,”

the spokeswoman said.

“Our Local Heroes are extraordinary individuals whose passion and energy strengthen

our communities and encapsulate what it means to be Australian.”

The national Local Hero Award recipient will be announced in Canberra on

25 January 2010.

Media Enquiries: DIAC - National Communications 02 6264 2244

Australian of the Year Awards & National Australia Day Council Media Enquiries:

Nicole Browne 02 9954 7677 or 0414 673 762

Victoria’s Local Hero

Kevin and Rhonda Butler

Kilmore East

Bushfire recovery volunteers

The day after the devastation of the Black Saturday fires, Kevin and Rhonda Butler

began rebuilding three kilometres of fencing burnt out on their property to stop 1500

sheep from straying onto the Hume Highway.  Realising that the task would take

three months to complete, they called on the help of friends and family.  From that

experience Blaze Aid was born to help fix destroyed fences.  Nine months on from

Black Saturday, 2700 long- and short-term Blaze Aid volunteers have completed 400

kilometres of fencing on 70 properties.  Many volunteers have made their home on

the Butlers’ property and meals are provided at what has become known as Kev’s

Shed.  With true Aussie spirit, Blaze Aid volunteers work side-by-side with fire

survivors, rebuilding not only their fences but also their spirits.  A huge task still lies

ahead with hundreds of kilometres of fencing still needing to be installed, but the

Butler’s determination will help rebuild the spirits of Victorians.

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