The CRC has an important role in ensuring resettlement occurs in the best way for the community, and will work in collaboration with Colac Otway Shire and the State Government.
Individuals and community groups will also be involved as the resettlement program gains momentum and the CRC establishes how it can work most effectively.
The CRC is co-chaired by Cr Frank Buchanan, Mayor, Colac Otway Shire, and community member Diane Sisley. It consists of 11 members including:
Cr Frank Buchanan – Mayor, Colac Otway Shire
Cr Buchanan lives just outside Apollo Bay with his wife Beb, and they have two adult children. He has been a dairy farmer for most of his working life, after 10 years in forestry. Throughout his career, Cr Buchanan has taken an active role representing his community and industries.
Cr Buchanan is committed to community building by advocating for and supporting a range of diverse infrastructure projects and social programs.
Sue Wilkinson – CEO, Colac Otway Shire Chief Executive Officer
Colac Otway Shire Council Chief Executive Officer Sue Wilkinson has more than two decades of experience as a leader in planning and community development.
Prior to her position at Colac Otway Shire Council, Sue worked in senior roles at Monash City Council, City of Port Phillip, City of Greater Bendigo and the State Government’s Department of Planning and Community Development, and had a strong career managing major strategic planning, economic and community development projects. Ms Wilkinson has also served on several boards including the business incubator at Monash University, the former Building Appeals Board and is currently serving on the boards of the G21 Geelong Region Alliance and Great South Coast.
Since joining Colac Otway Shire as CEO 18 months ago Sue’s focus has been on working with Council to support the delivery of services, strengthen the Shires reputation in the community and to attract investment to help the region remain strong.
Craig Lapsley – Emergency Management Commissioner
Craig Lapsley was inaugurated Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner in July 2014. His role has overall responsibility for coordination before, during and after major emergencies including management of consequences of an emergency.
Craig was appointed as Victoria’s first and only Fire Services Commissioner in 2010 after 30 years in Australian emergency management, mostly with the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) including service as a volunteer firefighter. Craig finished his employment with CFA in August 2007, ranked as Deputy Chief Officer.
As Victoria’s first Emergency Management Commissioner, Craig believes the shift to an “all communities, all emergencies” approach to emergency management will ensure a systematic and coordinated approach before, during and after major emergencies.
The eight community representatives on the committee include:
Andrew has been visiting the region for more than 25 years and has owned a property in the area for 10 years.
He sadly lost his property in the Christmas Day fires, and has joined the CRC to assist those whose homes were also destroyed in the fires, all of whom are at different stages of the grieving process.
Andrew was initially drawn to the area’s breathtaking surroundings and the natural beauty of the Australian bush. He realised during the disaster that he didn’t know his neighbours well, and believes it is important for the community to unite and come together in the aftermath of the bushfires.
He is confident that the CRC will help the community’s future direction, by being a unified voice for Wye River and Separation Creek.
Deb is the president of the Wye River Surf Life Saving Club and has been a part of the local community for more than 30 years.
She is passionate about the wellbeing of the community and believes her knowledge of the area has allowed her to understand the various dynamics of the local residents. Deb believes the involvement of local residents in the CRC is integral to ensuring there is a genuine sharing of views and ideas.
Deb notes the importance of ongoing community events in bringing people together and maintaining a positive atmosphere in the area. She believes that community restoration is essential to the growth of Wye River’s strength and vibrancy, and ensuring it remains an attractive and popular destination for tourists.
Diane has been involved in the WyeSep community for more than 24 years and is the Co-Chair of the Committee.
Initially drawn to the area for its natural bush and beach beauty, she says the reason she continues to return to the area is its strong sense of community and relaxing atmosphere. While unfortunately Diane lost her home in the fire, she sees the events of December 2015 as an opportunity to build and strengthen community connectivity.
Diane highlights the importance of the CRC being run by local members of the community, adding that this voice is paramount in guiding the resettlement Wye River and Separation Creek.
Ian Angus is the Vice President of the Wye River and Separation Creek Progress Association and has been visiting the area for over 25 years.
With a background in law and a history of involvement in several local community groups, he believes the CRC will play a crucial role in the resettlement, representing their interests and priorities.
Ian believes that the devastation of the fire has brought out the best in the community, noting the passion and incredible compassion of the WyeSep township.
Joanne has had a home in Wye River for more than 30 years and joins the CRC with a background in strategic planning and various community organisations.
She believes that despite the tragic circumstances, the community has been given a great opportunity to plan for the future, and develop a strategy that benefits the community as a whole.
Joanne was attracted to Wye River because of the beautiful natural surroundings and the unique environment that the area offered. She believes community events are critical in the restoration of the region and that although it will take time to rebuild the area, the community will remain resilient.
Mark has been connected to the Wye Sep area for more than 35 years, and still lives locally in the region.
He believes the role of the CRC should be to facilitate a forum for the local residents, and knows that the restoration will flourish though the collaboration and connectivity of the community.
The region initially appealed to Mark because of its fantastic beaches and hills, but the reason he decided to make Wye River home was because of the community, the culture, and the vitality within such a small town.
Paul is a longstanding member of the Wye River community, who worked at the Wye Beach Hotel for more than 35 years and took over as owner in 2006.
With family and friends based in the area, Paul is a strong supporter of the community and believes its successful resettlement will come from local residents, with continued support of council and government. He believes the ultimate objective of the resettlement is to have people return to the region and enjoy everything it has to offer.
He describes Wye River as a visually and naturally spectacular region, noting that once you’re immersed in the community, you’ll never want to leave.
Roy has lived in Wye River for more 50 years and is heavily involved in the community. Roy is best known as Captain of the Wye River Country Fire Authority (CFA), as well as the local school bus driver during the year.
He believes community events such as the annual CFA Easter Fete are integral to bringing together residents of Wye River and Separation Creek, and encouraging support for one another.
Roy notes how critical tourism is to the Wye River area and hopes his role in the CRC and the resettlement will strengthen not only the community, but also increase the appeal of the region to visitors.