Members of the community are being invited to share their account and experiences during and after the Black Summer Bushfires when a coronial inquiry into the devastating 2019-20 event moves to the Mid Coast region in early 2022
The NSW Bushfires Coronial Inquiry into the bushfires, which began in Sydney on Wednesday, August 25, will be hear submissions at several locations throughout the State before moving to Taree on March 21, 2022.
Being held to establish the cause and origin of the bushfires which consumed much of the State, the inquiry will focus on events particular to each death and fire, rather than the large scale themes extensively canvassed in other investigations that have been undertaken.
The coroner's primary role is to establish the cause and origin of the fire.
If the cause and origin of the fire is clear, then a court hearing may not be necessary.
A large number of the reported fires to the court will likely not proceed to a court hearing for this reason.
At a coronial inquest the coroner will determine the manner and cause of the death of the people who died.
In some cases, the coroner can also make recommendations if it is necessary or desirable.
Recommendations are an important part of coronial process and can help improve public health and safety and prevent similar events from happening again.
The hearings will be livestreamed via the court's website.
The Taree hearing will cover the fires at Bills Crossing, Crowdy Bay and one related death, Failford Road, Darawank, Goddos Road, Nundle State Forest, Goldens Road, Forster, Hillville, Minimbah, Rumba Complex Dingo Tops Road and Thunderbolts Way, Bretti.
Personal stories from those directly affected are important.
The court is aware some people who wish to be heard have not yet had the chance to tell their story about what they experienced during the fires.
People who wish to tell their story may provide a personal account of their individual experience during the fires to the court through a submission process on NSW Coroners Court NSW Bushfires coronial inquiry page HERE.
It's completely normal to experience a range of emotions following bushfires.
This can happen not just immediately after the fire, but also much later.
You or your loved ones may feel overwhelmed right now by news of the inquiry.
You might want to check in on your friends and neighbours with a friendly phone call, and if you or someone you know needs help, reach out.
The Mental Health Line is a free service, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, call 1800 011 511. There's a range of other services to support you on the MidCoast Council bushfire recover page HERE.
If you require assistance with bushfire recovery, Council's recovery team encourages you to reach out, you can call them on 7955 7543.