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National Day of Mourning for Victorian Bushfires.



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Prime Minister of Australia

Media Release

National Day of Mourning for Victorian Bushfires

16 February 2009

The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Premier of Victoria John Brumby today announced that a National Day of Mourning would be held on Sunday 22 February, 2009 to honour the victims of Victoria’s devastating bushfires and to recognise the courage and tireless efforts of emergency service workers.

A community memorial service will be held in Melbourne at 11.00am on Sunday at Rod Laver Arena and surrounds to mark the National Day of Mourning, giving Victorians and Australians an opportunity to come together to mourn.

Mr Rudd said the memorial service would provide Australians with an opportunity to grieve as the nation came to terms with its worst natural disaster.

“February 7 will become etched in our national memory as a day of disaster, of death and of mourning and it is very important that the nation grieves,” Mr Rudd said.

“The National Day of Mourning will allow us all an opportunity to honour those who lost their lives in the fires, support those who have suffered and recognise the work of our emergency services.

"This day will give all Australians the chance to reflect and remember this terrible tragedy, as an important step in rebuilding these communities."

Mr Brumby said Victorians had shown overwhelming support and generosity for fire-affected communities and it was important that all communities could come together to mourn the fires.

“So many lives have been lost, so many people injured, houses and possessions wrecked and whole communities virtually destroyed because of these devastating fires,” Mr Brumby said.

"We will reflect on the devastation of the bushfires and steel our collective resolve to emerge from this terrible tragedy with stronger communities.

“This memorial service is about ensuring our communities have an opportunity to mourn, to reflect and to be together.

"It is also about ensuring those communities know the rest of Victoria and the rest of the country supports them in their time of need.

“And while we are inviting all Victorians to attend, no venue is going to be big enough to cater for all those Victorians, and indeed all Australians, to express their sorrow and compassion for those affected by these fires.

“That’s why the Victorian Government is approaching both television and radio outlets offering them access to transmit the service to every corner of Victoria and possibly around Australia - we want people wherever they live to be able to participate in this service.

“Every support will be given to people in fire-affected communities and emergency service workers involved in the fire-fighting effort who wish to attend the memorial service.

“And in recognition of the incredible support Victoria has received from interstate, Premiers of other states will be invited to attend the memorial service or to host memorial services in their own states to mark the National Day of Mourning.”

Further details about the memorial service will be available Monday at premier.vic.gov.au

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