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Lost lives remembered on Childers fire anniversary

Childers fire anniversary
The oil painting “Taking a break in the field” by Josonia Palaitis depicts the 15 backpackers killed in the Childers fire.

The 20th anniversary of the Childers Backpacker Hostel fire, which claimed 15 lives, will be commemorated on Tuesday, 23 June.

Bundaberg Regional Council will open the Childers Palace memorial building on Tuesday for people to pay their respects.

Council also supported the production of an 18-part podcast series and produced a video which will screen online at 6pm on the 23rd.

Mayor Jack Dempsey will lay a wreath on Tuesday with Deputy Mayor Bill Trevor and chief executive Steve Johnston, who were mayor and CEO of the former Isis Shire in 2000.

“This terrible event was a tragedy which took 15 lives and influenced the lives of many more,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“Childers became internationally known for the wrong reasons, but also showed the world its compassion, care and genuine concern for the welfare of those who were touched by grief.

“The loss of lives in such dreadful circumstances was not entirely in vain.

“It created intense scrutiny around the rules and regulations related to budget accommodation.

“Today there are more stringent requirements and inspections to ensure the safety of young people who come to live and work in our community.”

Mayor Dempsey said Bundaberg Regional Council had continued the promise to always remember the 15 people who died.

“We honour this pledge to the families who retain an unbreakable bond with our community,” he said.

Mayor Dempsey said the commemoration would comply with COVID-19 restrictions, which had precluded international visitors from attending.

“The Council communications team has produced a 30-minute video which will stream online around the world,” he said.

“It features interviews with key personnel who were on the ground 20 years ago and who were actively involved as events unfolded from the dreadful fire to the rebuilding and opening of The Palace.”

The Palace Backpacker Memorial area upstairs at 72 Churchill Street, Childers, will be open to visitors for the Childers fire anniversary from 10am to 6pm on Tuesday with a COVID-safe plan in place.

Those attending are asked to please observe protocols regarding photography.

People who wish to book access at a particular time should call 4130 4750 or email BRGAdmin@bundaberg.qld.gov.au before noon Monday, 22 June to avoid queuing.



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