Release reopens scarred wounds

“TODAY is a devastating day for families who have lost loved ones,” says Joan Davey. “Today confirmed what we already know. They perished because a terrible situation was badly managed.”
She and her husband Leon lost their son Rob, daughter-in-law Natasha Halls Davey and two grandchildren, Jorja and Alexis, in the Black Saturday fires in Kinglake.
Mrs Davey said yesterday the commission’s interim report had stirred up trauma for grieving families, but she hoped its recommendations would protect lives in future.
“We feel anguish when our future has been lost. We lost a beautiful son, his beautiful wife Natasha. We will never see the bright future that was to be theirs. My darling Jorja, three years old, she will never run into Granny’s arms again. Baby Alexis, so beautiful, will never get to walk.”
Mrs Davey agrees that Black Saturday was unprecedented: “It was a terrible, terrible day, but there were so many points in that day when a better outcome was possible and nothing was done to ensure a better outcome. It was like they shut their eyes and turned away and hoped it would turn out, but it didn’t turn out for us.”
But she wanted to express the family’s gratitude to firefighting volunteers: “There are lots of people who did their best.”
Natasha’s father, Michael Halls, said he was pleased with the commission’s process, although he criticised the idea that people should simply be warned that death could result from a decision to stay and defend.
“It shouldn’t just be a matter of saying, ‘You could die’. That will just frighten you. If you want people to make rational, considered decisions, they have to have objective information.”
He said people needed to know details such as the fire danger index for a given day and what it meant for the intensity of any fire: “That beyond 75, any fire cannot be stopped. Once it’s 150, it’s far beyond any chance of control and all the CFA’s efforts should be put into warning about a catastrophic firestorm.
“The CFA seems to think that is their information, but the public has paid for it and they have a right to it.”
First publsihed in The Age.