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Letter - Governor-General to Karen Gardam, Black Saturday Bushfires, Canberra, 4 Dec 2009 Document Reg. No: HT 27579

Condolence letter from the Governor-General 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.'

Buckingham Palace passed Karen's letter on to the Office of the Governor-General, who sent this reply. The letter makes clear the impossibility of becoming involved in matters of government, but it also conveys the sympathy of the Governor-General to bushfire survivors.
Single sheet of white paper with insignia in gold ink consisting of a branch of wattle surmounted by a crown and the words 'Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General'. At the bottom is the signature of the deputy official secretary.
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
Dimensions: 300 mm (Height), 210 mm (Width)

More information

Tagged with: bushfires, correspondence, governors, black saturday bushfires 2009
Themes this item is part of: Sustainable Futures Collection, Victorian Bushfires Collection
Primary Classification: SUSTAINABILITY
Secondary Classification: Natural Disasters
Tertiary Classification: bushfires
Inscriptions: The text of the computer-printed letter reads:
'Dear Ms Gardam
As you would be aware, Buckingham Palace recently forwarded to this office a copy of your letter to Her Majesty The Queen regarding your difficulties recovering after the Victorian bushfires in February 2009.
The Governor-General appreciates the time you have taken to write about this issue, which has no doubt caused you a great deal of heartache. However, as this is a state matter, it is not possible for Ms Bryce to intervene. You may wish to consider contacting your local state member of parliament, bringing your concerns to his or her attention.
The Governor-General has asked me to convey her condolences to you and your family on the sad loss of your mother and brother.
Yours sincerely,
Mark Fraser OAM
Deputy Official Secretary to the Governor-General'
Authorised By: Governor-General Quentin Bryce, Yarralumla, Australian Capital Territory, Australia, 4 Dec 2009
Author: Mr Mark Fraser - Government House, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia, 4 Dec 2009
Recipient: Ms Karen Gardam, Healesville, Australia, Dec 2009

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