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Hawkesbury Emergency Responders Overlooked for National Recognition

Jun 13, 2024

Emergency responders in the Hawkesbury region, who have been crucial during multiple severe floods, have been excluded from receiving the National Emergency Medal, despite their significant efforts. The National Emergency Medal Committee recently announced that responders who assisted during the February-March 2022 floods in northern New South Wales and South East Queensland are eligible for the award.

Federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman said Hawkesbury responders had been unfairly left out. “However, I am very disappointed that emergency responders from the Hawkesbury, who have stepped up time and time again in the last four years, have not been included in the decision.”

“I have written to the Assistant to the Prime Minister Patrick Gorman MP, and to Premier Chris Minns to express my dismay on behalf of the community, and seek clarification as to why emergency responders from our community are not eligible to apply,” she said.

Templeman said Hawkesbury responders have stepped up repeatedly over the last four years, facing some of the worst flooding in decades. From March to October 2022, the region experienced four significant floods, with the March and July events breaking records for height and duration. The March 2022 flood at Windsor was the largest since 1978, only to be surpassed by the July 2022 flood. At Sackville, the July flood was the highest since 1964.

During these floods, emergency services, including the State Emergency Service (SES) and the Australian Defence Force (ADF), along with numerous volunteers, were essential in rescue operations, evacuations, and resupply efforts. Roads and bridges were closed, ferry services suspended, and entire suburbs and villages isolated for extended periods. The March floodwaters remained above 8 meters for 10 days and exceeded 10 meters for 8 days, the longest duration recorded since the 1970s. In July, floodwaters stayed above 8 meters for 6 days.

The aftermath saw significant damage to private properties, businesses, agriculture, and council infrastructure. With eight floods in the past four years, the Hawkesbury community has firsthand experience of the devastation caused by such natural disasters, she said.

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