Artwork honours local heroes

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A new mural and statue have been unveiled at the joint SES-CFA facility in Cann River in recognition of the commitment of emergency services members during the 2019-20 bushfires.


The mural by renowned artist Simon White depicts emergency services responders standing together working as one in the landscape. The statue by chainsaw wood sculptor John Brady pays homage to the timber workers who cleared the trees after the fires. 

The mural and wood carving were selected by SES and CFA members as part of the EMV-funded SES/CFA Wellbeing Recovery Project which aims to support the psychological recovery of first responders and their families following the 2019-20 bushfires.

In December 2019 as the fires raged across East Gippsland, Cann River was isolated as a wall of flames surrounded the town. At the peak flames and smoke from the fire surrounding Cann River were 14 kilometres high and the plume was generating its own weather, including lightning.

The unveiling was a significant event for the Cann River community and local emergency services members following the fires. It was also an important milestone for Cann River members with the brigade experiencing a welcome resurgence in membership and recently electing new captain Ernie Vare.

Image of wood carving

The mural and statue are one of more than 20 projects underway as part of the Wellbeing Recovery Project. Some of the activities being rolled out thanks to the EMV funding include murals of emergency services workers, opportunities to access a retreat and events involving other emergency services agencies that have a social or training focus.

Later this year a book will be published about volunteers’ experiences during the Black Summer fires, bringing together stories and images that reflect the courage, sacrifice and hard work that was evident across the long fire season.

The Wellbeing Recovery grant has also enabled the development of an app called CFA thrive. The confidential app allows members and their families to be connected to the resources and support relevant to where they are on the mental health continuum – a scale that ranges from mental health (green) to mental illness (red). For more information on the app visit  




Submitted by Shaunnagh O'Loughlin