Summary

Police statement to Victorian Police by Karen Gardam about the Black Saturday bushfires.

In June 2009, Karen Gardam gave a statement to police about the deaths of her mother and brother in Strathewen on Black Saturday, 7 February 2009. In it she described her own movements on the day and how she tried to get through to Strathewen to evacuate her mother. She also described her mother's fire plan and her preparations to fight the blaze. Karen told the police, 'Mum was as prepared as she could have been to fight the fire with her fire plans and equipment... I don't think there was anything I could say or do to get mum to leave the property that day. I think mum wanted to stay because it was the house our family had built.' Karen and her husband were turned back by the flames and her mother, Irma Winton, was killed. Karen said, 'Having seen the fire first hand I now know that no amount of preparation could prepare you for a fire like that.' Karen's brother, Michael Winton, later went to Strathewen looking for Irma and died on the scene. This is Karen's copy of her statement, provided to her by Victoria Police.

Physical Description

7 pages of printed statement on white paper, stapled in upper left corner. Footer reads 'Statement of Karen Virginia Gardam'.

Significance

The Victorian bushfires of February 2009 had a severe impact on people far beyond the day itself. Karen Gardam was unable to get assistance despite losing her mother, her brother and her livelihood because she did not fall into any of the usual 'categories' for bushfire survivors. This collection of documents shows her efforts to be acknowledged and helped, but it also shows how difficult it was for government agencies to recognise, register and assist everyone who had been affected by the fires.

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