St Andrews Community Bushfire Recovery Association Committee

After community calls for volunteers to contribute to the St Andrews Bushfire Community Recovery Association  committee has been formed.

The skills and experience that the committee members bring to the community are wide reaching and extremely valuable to the recovery process which will take a community wide focus.

First and foremost all committee members have a strong tie to St Andrews and have lived in the area for an extensive period of time. They have been involved in community based activities, served on committees, held positions in council and bring to the committee a wide variety of community links.

They bring the human element grass roots skills of counselling, leadership and personal development to the committee, along with the technical skills of engineering, drafting, surveying, building and planning.

Administrative and financial experience gained in law, banking, investment along with strong business skills, strategy development and project management will provide a solid foundation for committee based activities that will be focused on community recovery

The Police Force is represented on the committee bringing links to law enforcement and individual members bring CFA fire knowledge and safety.

The committee is well placed to liaise with council, government bodies and authorities. The committee is also in a position to communicate with business, both local and outside the area who may bring valuable contributions to the community.

All members of the committee have expressed a strong dedication to the continuing recovery of St Andrews and also bring a strong emphasis on ongoing sustainability with members of the committee well versed in environmental rehabilitation, permaculture and land care.

Ian Flack – Chair person

Ian Flack has been a resident of Ninks Rd St Andrews for 20 years. Ian his wife Jenny and children James and Elizabeth along with a friend survived the fires. They had 19 other Ninks Rd residents shelter in their home after the fire and are strongly committed to supporting their neighbors to return to Ninks Rd.

Ian has recently commenced as Personal Development Coach at the Melbourne Football Club responsible for the development of personal skills and leadership. Ian has been employed in the Development of AFL football for 28 years previously working with Collingwood, and AFL Victoria as manager of the Northern Knights and Eastern Ranges clubs in the TAC Cup.

Ian has been involved in many community groups and presented at many courses on club administration, team building and coach education.

Ian has a Diploma of Technical Analysis and is editor of the Australian Investors Association Derivatives Bulletin.

He and Jenny have also recently built a new home on their property and believe this experience will assist them in supporting their friends and neighbors in building their new homes.

Ian believes we can build a better St Andrews and that the fire has galvanised the community both from within and outside the burnt area.

Amber Dixon – Vice Chair Person

Amber Dixon is a Black Saturday survivor from St Andrews.

Amber graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering in Geological Engineering from RMIT and brings a range of experience to the committee, ranging from assessment and remediation of contaminated land to environmental rehabilitation.

Prior to her current role as Chief Household Officer (or stay-at-home mum), Amber obtained extensive technical, team development and project management experience whilst working for mining, consulting and state-owned organisations.

Amber is also a volunteer CFA fire fighter and staging area manager who has previously held the elected positions of secretary and treasurer of the St Andrews Rural Fire Brigade and secretary of the Kinglake Rural Fire Brigade.

Amber is a current participant of local groups including the St Andrews Playgroup, Green Wedge Christian Community and CFA.

Amber enjoys developing and working in strongly performing multi-disciplinary teams and is committed to using her full range of skills to achieve positive outcomes for the St Andrews community.

David Wheeler – Treasurer

David recently retired after 9 years as Post Office Licensee and Proprietor of St Andrews General Store and Post Office. In this capacity David knew all the local bushfire victims. Angela Brunton who perished was employed by David at the shop as was Eleanor Mathews the sister of Sam who also died. Many other friends have lost their homes and livelihoods. David’s current main interests are as a Foundation Director and Treasurer of Valley Community Financial Services Limited. This public listed company owns the banking franchises for Hurstbridge and Diamond Creek Community Bank branches of Bendigo Bank. The Community Financial Services have also just opened a sub branch in Kinglake, and are in the process of setting up another franchise in Doreen.

VCFS is one of the top 4 franchises of Bendigo Bank Australia wide encompassing over 230 franchise operators. Since opening in 2001 we have returned over $1.5 million back to our Community through Dividends, Sponsorships and Donations, most of this in the last 2 years. VCFS is now at a stage where it will contribute substantial funds on a regular basis to the community that it serves.

Elizabeth Savage Kooroonya Secretary

Elizabeth feels that her primary qualification for this committee is her own experience of the Feb 7th fires – the devastating loss of her husband Graeme, the home they built together and where they raised their children. With this came the loss of creative and academic work, animals, and the loss of community, environment and certainty. Elizabeth and Graeme lived in St Andrews for over thirty years Elizabeth says their roots went down into St Andrews earth.

At various times Elizabeth has instigated and/or belonged to community groups – playgroup, kindergarten, school council, cubs, disaster fundraising events etc. The Nillumbik Reconciliation Group started in her loungeroom and she remains Cultural Advisor to that group. Elizabeth has co-ordinated Family Day Care and been responsible for Adult Day Care services and art therapy programs in St Andrews and Eltham. Until the fires Elizabeth tutored Indigenous students at La Trobe.

Elizabeth has been a performed poet and writer, exhibiting artist and community artist, although not engaged in these activities at the present time. At the time of the fires, she was into her second year of a PhD at La Trobe University concerned with urban Indigenous women’s experiences of making art towards making meaning and how this might enhance feelings of social and emotional wellbeing. This project is ‘in-kind’ research for the Co-operative Research Centre Aboriginal Health. In April this year Elizabeth was awarded an Endeavour Fellowship by the Australian Government which will take her overseas to further research into creativity, wellbeing and recovery. She will take this up in approximately twelve months.

The fires of 7th February have catastrophically changed Elizabeth’s life; she is confronted by the enormous challenge of rebuilding a new and different life. However, Elizabeth is acutely aware she is not alone; that everyone affected by the fires is also confronted by the challenges of enormous loss and grief, difficulties and hardship. Her motivation to join the Recovery Committee is to become a representative of not just her own story, but for other people and their story as well. She believes personal and collective story is the primary truth from which we can create fulfilled futures.

Sergeant David Arthurson

Sergeant David Arthurson is the Officer in Charge at the Hurstbridge Police Station, a position he has held for the last 15 years. David’s role on the St Andrews Bushfire Recovery Committee is to support and assist the community in any way he can in his capacity as a Police Officer.

Manninder Sekhon

Manninder has lived in Dodd Street, St Andrews since the beginning of 2002. Previous to that he lived in Smiths Gully for nearly two years. Manninder lives with his partner Michelle and their three children aged 8, 3 and 1. Two of the children were born at home in their Dodd St house.

Manninder works from home as a draftsperson drawing house plans and obtaining planning and building permits. As part of the permit process he is familiar with liasing with council officers. Much of this work has been done with Nillumbik council.

For the past three years Manninder has been running a massage stall at St Andrews market and has been on the St Andrews Market Committee since 2008. Manninder has also been on the St Andrews Hall Advisory Committee since 2008.

From 2000 to 2006 Manninder and Michelle were active members of St Andrews Landcare.

Since 2002 Manninder has been a member of a local Community Fireguard Group.

Peter Richards

Peter Richards has lived in Dodd Street, St Andrews for 30 Years.

Married to Christine, Peter and Christine have two adult children named Jacinda and Brodie, both of whom have been educated at St Andrews Primary school.

During his time at St Andrews Peter has made many friends through participation at the Football club, Pony club, Tennis club and Primary school.

Peter runs a land surveying business in Watsonia that predominately services the housing industry. The rebuilding process in the aftermath of the bushfires will involve many of his clients.

Peter is keen to assist the St Andrews community in recovering from the impact of the bushfires.

Warwick Leeson

For more than 40 years, Warwick has been actively involved in a wide range of community activities.

When he moved to Kangaroo Ground 13 years ago, Warwick became active within Nillumbik on a variety of local issues throughout the Shire.

In 2004, he was elected to the Nillumbik Council and represented what is now the Sugarloaf Ward, covering much of the St Andrews area and from 2006 to 2008, had the honour to be elected as mayor.

Warwick has a keen interest in achieving and maintaining a strong sense of identity and a spirit of community for Nillumbik’s townships and the bushfires and their awful consequences have had a profound effect on me.

Although Warwick’s own home was not subject to the fires, he lost many dear friends in the St Andrews area and one of his children’s homes was destroyed at Steels Creek.

Warwick fully appreciates the impact these fires have had on all of us who care for our community, and welcomes the opportunity to serve on this Community Bushfire Recovery Committee as a means of both easing the pain for those who suffered most and re-building the infrastructure and spirit of St Andrews.

This Committee can, and will, play a pivotal role in providing St Andrews residents with an empathetic localised, support group that they can rely on to help them throughout their re-building process”.

Stuart Morgan

Stuart and his wife Rae moved to Olives Lane, St Andrews in 1980, after building their house, which remained their home until Black Saturday. All of their three children attended St Andrews Primary School. Rae and Stuart are currently living in St Andrews, and plan to continue to do so.

Professional qualifications: Bachelor, and Master of Laws, Barrister and Solicitor, Diploma of Education.

Work background:

· solicitor, both as an employee and principal (including planning, property and building matters)

· teaching law at RMIT University, and other Australian and overseas institutions

· having retired from full-time work in 2004, I currently teach Company Law part-time to Accounting students in the School of Accounting and Law at RMIT University.

Other information:

Stuart’s main particular interest in the St Andrews recovery process is to contribute, if possible, to minimising the complexities of replacing destroyed homes, sheds and other structures.

Helen Kenny

Helen has lived in St Andrews for 25 years with her husband and family of eight children, four of whom have been born since she moved into the area, the youngest being ten years of age. Helen is also the proud grandmother of two small boys who now reside in Rosanna with their parents. As a family the Kenny’s regularly host international students to share with them the joy of living in this area.

Helen’s background is quite varied; I have worked with people with disabilities at Yooralla, Kew Cottages and Nicholas House. She trained as a youth counsellor with the YMCA and worked to assist young people to find paid employment and hosted many at her home. Helen has worked as support for the elderly in many different situations and continue to do so. She has been recently liaising with case workers and shire in the recovery phase of the bushfires.

Helen has a background of paid employment in the banking industry and the veterinary industry, having worked as a vet nurse/receptionist/book-keeper for the last thirty two years. She is self taught in computer systems and has a fair understanding of some computer based accounting programs and internet usage.

Helen has been involved with the St Andrews CFA for the last ten years, holding the position of Communications Officer for six years, and fulfilling Lieutenants positions during that time. Helen has held the Captains position for the last two years and is up for re-election at the May meeting. Helen is employed on a casual basis by CFA as a community safety presenter.

Helen has been involved with the St Andrews Hall Advisory Committee, the St Andrews Advisory Committee, the St Andrews 150th Committee and still hold positions on the St Andrews Community Centre Committee, the St Andrews Historical Society and the Panton Hill On the Hill Festival. Due to these involvements she has been able to establish many community links which, she believes, would be beneficial to developing the CRC group.

Helen’s greatest vision for the CRC group is to establish a permanent memorial for “those who have lost, those who have died and those who come after who need to remember”.

Toni-anne Collins

Toni-anne is a resident of Ninks Road and lost her home on the 7th of February. Continuing to reside in St Andrews Toni-anne is planning to rebuild and remain a part of the St Andrews community. She has been a resident of the shire for 15 years. Her two daughters were educated at Eltham College and were members of the Kangaroo Pony Club.

With a strong interest in permaculture Toni-anne is looking to bring safe and sustainable practices to her property and this philosophy will play a large part in her rebuilding design.

Extensive experience in business and international level sports management have developed the skills that Toni-anne brings to the recovery committee which include strategy development, business case development and project management. With a background in strategic Human Resources she has strong skills in succession planning.

Currently Toni-anne facilitates the St Andrews recovery blog ensuring that communications are available to the entire community. As an accredited sports journalist and photographer (she covered the Equestrian sports at the Beijing Olympics), Toni-anne can offer communication skills in print.

Carmen Jansen.

Carmen Jansen owned, was principle and taught at a Montessori Pre Primary and Junior Primary school in South Africa for 7 years. Prior to that Carmen had various teaching opportunities in the private teaching sector in South Africa. She was the co founder for GECKO (greater Kylami Conservancy), a large community based conservancy encompassing many suburbs in the Midrand Metropolitan area, South Africa.

Carmen was also a member and co founder of a trauma first aid response team. During this time she attended many trauma related incidents and also dealt extensively with both adults and children who had been attacked, lost family members through violent crimes and assisted them with ongoing support in this and many other regards.

Carmen’s passion is working with children and it is here she find’s most of her personal strengths.

Although Carmen has only been in Australia for 2 years, and in St Andrews since December last year- she feels a strong community connection to St Andrews area and its people. Carmen would very much like to bring anything she has to offer in order to help rebuild our amazing community.

Carmen Jansen has two fantastic children aged 13 and 14.

2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Melissa White said,


    I write to seek financial help or part of to assist me to fence my property.
    I have recently had a dog shot due to getting out and wandering and worry it will happen again.
    I also have pigs that need good fencing, any suggestions?

    Look forward to your repsonce.
    Mel. 8 murphy st Kinglake.

    • 2

      toniannecollins54 said,


      I would give blaze aid a call. They are coming to the end of the support they have been offering but if you tell them your story that may be able to help.
      Call Kevin on 0418530471 or call Lyn on 03 57822480.

      Rural Finance were also giving fencing grants if you had properties greater than 20 acres. You could also give them a call.

      Hope this helps

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