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Governor makes Seymour visit as clean-up continues

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By Colin MacGillivray

GOVERNOR of Victoria Linda Dessau and Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp visited Seymour on Friday to meet with council officials and community organisations dealing with the continuing clean-up effort following October’s floods.

Ms Dessau and Mr Crisp toured several Seymour locations after a briefing with Mitchell Shire Council Mayor Fiona Stevens, chief executive Brett Luxford and several other council officials, visiting the flood recovery hub at Seymour Customer and Library Service Centre, Kings Park and the Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk.

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Affected community groups and businesses discussed their concerns with Ms Dessau, outlining the ways in which the disaster had affected the town.

Ms Dessau said she deliberately waited until the immediate recovery efforts had subsided to gain a better understanding of the flood’s long-term effects.

“Natural disasters have a long tail, and everybody outside the particular affected region is very conscious of them when they’re occurring, but in my role I’m particularly conscious of how long a community takes after the event to rebuild and recover,” she said.

“I particularly wanted to come now rather than earlier when everyone was hard at it doing the immediate work, just to listen and understand better what’s needed to get the community back to where it was – and even better than where it was – before the flooding.”

While the governor is appointed by the British monarch and serves a largely ceremonial and constitutional role without direct political power, Ms Dessau said it was still important for her to understand the concerns of the Seymour community.

“It has been a very informative visit,” she said.

“It has been interesting to see a community in Seymour where people are really working together and pulling together. It’s great to see how the council is working with the community and the community is working with the council.”

Ms Dessau spoke with several user groups during her visit to Kings Park, which remains closed to the public following the floods.

Riding for the Disabled Association Seymour’s Dania Ahern said the not-for-profit group faced significant setbacks after the floods.

She expressed her gratitude for Ms Dessau and Mr Crisp’s visit.

“[This] organisation has been running for 43 years,” she said.

“In the floods we have lost all the resources we have built up over that time, such as specialised equipment; teaching resources; games; all our tack including bridles, lead ropes and 22 saddles; as well as our kitchen and other facilities necessary for running the program.

“We’ve had to relocate our horses to a volunteer’s farm. To continue to serve our participants after the flood damage, we’ve worked hard to be accredited by RDA safety standards at this temporary location.

“Previously, we were unable to fundraise due to COVID, and now the effects of the flood mean we have additional costs of fencing and purchasing equipment.”

Ms Dessau said while she was ‘optimistic about the long-term result’ in Seymour, a challenging process remained for groups dealing with the aftermath of the flooding.

“As governor I don’t have a political role and I’m not involved in policy, but it’s important that I understand what’s happening all around our state,” she said.

“This is a beautiful part of Victoria with terrific people, and it was essential for me to understand more about what has happened, what they are going through and what their needs are.

“There are so many community organisations that are affected, and that means so many people in the community are affected as well.”

Mr Crisp thanked everyone who had attended the Seymour gathering.

“It’s been so important to listen to those experiences. I look forward to keeping in contact with this great community,” he said.

Cr Stevens said the council was delighted and appreciative of Ms Dessau and Mr Crisp taking time from their schedules to visit.

“It’s very reassuring that they want to personally see the ongoing challenges and hear from those directly impacted,” she said.

“We know we still have a long road ahead and we welcome their interest, advocacy and support as we move forward.”

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