Bushfire condolence book moved to State Library

By Rob O’Brien

Books of condolence commemorating last summer’s Victorian bushfires will be permanently kept at the State Library of Victoria, the Premier has announced three days before the anniversary of Australia’s worst natural disaster.

Premier, John Brumby and Minister for the Arts Peter Batchelor handed over the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Message Book Collection to the Library.

The books contains thousands of messages of support from Australia and around the world for the victims of the deadly fires, which killed 173 people across Victoria and destroyed more than 2,000 homes.
“In February last year Victoria experienced the worst natural disaster in our history,” Mr Brumby said.

“In the wake of this tragedy, there was a huge outpouring of support and emotion from people across the state, the country and around the globe.

“Pages were made available for people to leave messages at many places, including the State Library, so that the community could express sympathy and offer support to those affected.

“The collection recorded messages of compassion, empathy, shared humanity and hope.”

Mr Brumby said the Collection was a permanent reminder of this catastrophic moment in Victoria’s history, and the way it has brought communities together.  

“Together with messages and letters sent from individuals in other parts of the world, these pages were assembled to form part of the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Message Book Collection,” he said.

Arts Minister Peter Batchelor said the Message Books would be part of the Library’s Manuscripts collection, joining the wealth of material documenting the impact of bushfires on the state and the courage and compassion with which Victorians had responded.  

“The State Library is the custodian of so much of our history. By handing over these books, we are not only safeguarding these records on behalf of the Victorian people, but making them available to the public now and into the future,” Mr Batchelor said.

The Victorian Bushfire Message Book Collection contains thousands of messages and letters as well as a wreath, ribbons and bells that were used in the Together for Victoria bushfire memorial service held at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday 22 February 2009.

A selection of the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Message Book Collection will be in display in the Cowan Gallery at the State Library of Victoria until March 17.


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