Ash Wednesday 40th commemorations wins community award

Member News image


The Ash Wednesday 40th Anniversary Commemoration has been honoured with the Cardinia Shire’s “Community Event of the Year” at an Australia Day ceremony last week.


The award, presented by Mayor Cr Jack Kowarzik, recognised the efforts of the Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre (AWBEC) volunteers, Veterans of Ash Wednesday Group and CFA leaders and staff in preparing and delivering the event which drew over 700 veterans, dignitaries and local residents and thousands of online views.

The moving memorial service, held at the Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre at Cockatoo, represented all areas across Victoria which were impacted by the devastating 1983 fires.

The site, a former kindergarten building, served as a crucial shelter for more than 150 local residents during the blaze, and was later saved by the community from demolition to become a valuable resource for visitors and students who want to learn about the tragedy.

The Cardinia Shire’s award citation acknowledged the “thoughtful planning which ensured the event served not only as a statewide tribute but also as a fitting local commemoration.”

The event also received the Cockatoo Community Australia Day award, while former Cockatoo Brigade Captain Graham Simpson was named Cockatoo Senior Citizen of the Year and former Cockatoo Brigade Captain Chris White received Cockatoo Citizen of the Year.

Graham, who has been a driving force in preserving the Cockatoo building and transforming into an education resource, as well as leading the planning for the 40th commemoration service, said it was an honour to receive the awards.

“The awards are a testament to the many hours of work by dozens of people to ensure the Ash Wednesday 40th Commemoration was successfully delivered,” Graham said.

“While we are pleased to be recognised, the event commemorated a traumatic day in Victoria’s history, with a significant loss of life and property.

“We know that many people remain impacted by that day and we dedicate this award in their honour.”

The Ash Wednesday 40th Commemoration was funded through the Victorian Government’s Valuing Volunteers Program.

You can view the memorial service here. For more information on the Ash Wednesday Bushfire Education Centre email:


  • Member News image
  • Member News image
Submitted by CFA Media