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Letter - Buckingham Palace to Karen Gardam, Black Saturday Bushfires, London, 12 Nov 2009 Document Reg. No: HT 27575

Condolence letter from Buckingham Palace to Karen Gardam about the Black Saturday bushfires.

Karen Gardam lost her mother and brother on Black Saturday, 7 February 2009. The trauma of the event resulted in severe stress, the loss of her business and the upheaval of her life, but she didn't fit into any of the designated 'bushfire survivor' categories, and did not receive any assistance. She sent several letters to the authorities, including her state and local members, but received no response. In frustration, she wrote a letter to Her Majesty The Queen, speaking of her difficulties in getting assistance and her resentment of advice from 'people ...[who] do not live there, making decisions for us, and taking our ability to act away from us.'

This letter from Buckingham Palace makes clear the impossibility of becoming involved in matters of government, but it also conveys the sympathy of The Queen to bushfire survivors.
Single sheet of cream-coloured paper with red insignia at the top with the royal coat of arms and the words 'Buckingham Palace'. The letter is on black text with the signature of the Queen's correspondence secretary at the bottom.
Statement Of 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.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Ms Karen Gardam, 2010
Discipline: History

More information

Tagged with: bushfires, correspondence, black saturday bushfires 2009
Themes this item is part of: Sustainable Futures Collection, Victorian Bushfires Collection, HM Queen Elizabeth II (1926- )
Primary Classification: SUSTAINABILITY
Secondary Classification: Natural Disasters
Tertiary Classification: bushfires
Inscriptions: The text of the computer-printed letter reads:
'12th November, 2009
Dear Ms. Gardam,
The Queen has asked me to thank you for your letter of 23rd October from which Her Majesty was saddened to learn of the death of your mother and brother in the bushfires earlier this year and sends her sympathy to you and your family.
The Queen has taken careful mote of your concerns regarding the availability of Government assistance and the possibility of further bushfires this summer.
Perhaps I might explain, however, that this is not a matter in which Her Majesty would intervene. As a constitutional Sovereign, The Queen acts through her personal representative, the Governor-General, on the advice of her Australian Ministers and it is to them that your appeal should be directed.
I have, therefore, been instructed to forward your letter to the Governor-General of Australia so that she may be aware of your approach to Her Majesty and may consider the points you raise.
Yours sincerely,
Mrs. Sonia Bonici Senior Correspondence Officer'
Authorised By: HM Queen Elizabeth II, London, England, Great Britain, 12 Nov 2009
Author: Mrs Sonia Bonici - Buckingham Palace, London, England, Great Britain, 12 Nov 2009
Recipient: Ms Karen Gardam, Healesville, Victoria, Australia, Nov 2009

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