The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, has repeated his calls for an improved police presence in South Gippsland in the wake of the fire that saw the Fish Creek Football Netball Club’s (FCFNC) rooms destroyed.

Mr O’Brien met with the club’s co-presidents, Ray Stefani and Nick Shaw, and other club members to discuss the path forward to reconstruction.

The fire, the result of an apparent burglary followed by arson, in the early hours of Saturday, November 4, 2023, destroyed trophies, flags, honour boards, team photos and more than 100 years of memorabilia.

Mr O’Brien said the devastating event highlighted the need for increased police numbers in South Gippsland.

“Police presence is a key issue that is regularly raised with me for smaller communities right across Gippsland, and I’ve heard very concerning reports about just how thin the blue line was on Saturday when the burglary and fire took place,” Mr O’Brien said.

“I have been advocating for better staffing of our local stations for some time, and this burglary and fire, which has been devastating for the Fishy community, has raised community angst even further.

“Many residents feel like we are a soft target, and the lack of police presence is leading to the Shire being a target for criminals from outside the region, increased hoon driving and other anti-social behaviour.”

The FCFNC has already established a subcommittee to work on the rebuild of the clubrooms, and a GoFundMe page raised more than $100,000 in the first 48 hours, a testament to the value of the club and how it is regarded within the community.

“It is clear that this loss has greatly impacted the Fish Creek community and surrounds,” Mr O’Brien said.

“It was good to catch up with Ray and Nick and club members, and while there are many unknowns still about the rebuild, I’ll be working with the club to secure whatever state government support and funding may be needed to get the Kangaroos back on the field next year and deliver a rebuild of the clubrooms.”