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Understorey: Bushfires Royal Commission

Wednesday 27th May / presented by Elizabeth PO’ Adrian Glamorgan

The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements began hearings on Monday.  Understorey brings an edited interview tendered on the first day as evidence, given by Wiradjuri woman Professor Sue Townshend, from Charles Sturt University, whose home in Tumbarumba, New South Wales, burned down last summer.   It's clear that for those exposed to last summer's bushfires, the event is still not over.  There are many still homeless. There are many still traumatised by what they have seen. Many family and friends in mourning, not just for the 33 who died directly, but also for the estimated 445 people who died from the smoke alone.  While we plan for economic recovery, we do so in the wake of the health costs for the 2019-2020 fire season of $2 billion, and the insurance claims nationally have been another $2.2b.  So here we are, deep in a pandemic, yet still downwind from bushfires that destroyed 3000 homes, and more than 10 million hectares of bushland, leaving many questions smouldering in the burnt soil.  And experts from the Bureau of Meteorology are telling the Royal Commission that we are not looking at a one-off event.  Professor Sue Townshend is now convinced that capitalism doesn't have an answer for our relationship with the land, but the Wiradjuri way to "go gentle, go slow" offers a worthwhile way forward.

Photo: Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements

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In ecology, the understorey grows where light shines through the forest canopy.

Our award-winning Understorey journalists highlight local and globally-connected environmental issues that the other media commonly pass over.

RTRFM’s long-running dedicated environment program makers Adrian Glamorgan and Elizabeth PO’ bring together stories from near and sometimes afar, whether it be conservationists rehabilitating habitat, citizen scientists gathering data, campaigners at the frontline, or decision-makers at their desks, seeking solutions together to the challenges affecting our shared air, water, land and life processes.

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