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Bushfire catastrophe in Victoria, Australia : public record, accountability, commemoration, memorialization and heritage protection

Logan, William 2015, Bushfire catastrophe in Victoria, Australia : public record, accountability, commemoration, memorialization and heritage protection, National identities, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 155-174, doi: 10.1080/14608944.2015.1019207.

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Title Bushfire catastrophe in Victoria, Australia : public record, accountability, commemoration, memorialization and heritage protection
Author(s) Logan, William
Journal name National identities
Volume number 17
Issue number 2
Start page 155
End page 174
Total pages 20
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication Oxford, Eng.
Publication date 2015
ISSN 1460-8944
1469-9907
Keyword(s) bushfires
Black Saturday
Ash Wednesday
memory
heritage
Australian psyche
Summary In Australia, 7 February 2009 has become known as ‘Black Saturday’ because of the bushfire catastrophe that took 173 lives and devastated communities in the central parts of the State of Victoria. The paper considers how the 2009 fires have been recorded, how the issue of accountability has been dealt with, particularly in relation to the State and its agencies but also individual residents in the fire-devastated areas, and how bushfire deaths and other losses have been commemorated through remembrance events and museum collection projects and memorialized through the creation of new monuments and the protection of remaining physical structures as official heritage. Despite the major impact of bushfires on the State, to date few bushfire-related places have been protected. The former Cockatoo Kindergarten, which acted as a community refuge during an earlier catastrophic Victorian bushfire on Ash Wednesday, 16 February 1983, is an exception. Inscribed in 2012, the former kindergarten is the only bushfire-related place inscribed on the Victorian Heritage Register, in this case for its historical and social value as a place resonating with other communities affected by other bushfires and helping the broader Victorian public to come to terms with bushfire catastrophe. But, while bushfire commemoration activities and physical memorials, like those relating to war, help many societies remember individual and community pain and suffering, they can divert attention from the more fundamental questions of why they were there in the first place and what must be done to ensure the same catastrophe does not recur in the future. In this regard, the paper questions the oft-cited claim that bushfires are embedded in the Australian psyche, seeing links between the rhetoric around bushfire survival and Australian myth-making and nation-building.
Language eng
DOI 10.1080/14608944.2015.1019207
Field of Research 210202 Heritage and Cultural Conservation
Socio Economic Objective 950399 Heritage not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2015, Taylor & Francis
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30073878

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Alfred Deakin Research Institute
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