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“Last night, I woke up at 4am and that day just ran over and over in my head.”

Mr Constance urged people wanting to donate to the bushfire recovery effort to consider giving to Lifeline, which has experienced an extra 250 calls a day to its counselling phoneline since December.

Anna Dunne walks through the remains of her home on the outskirts of Nelligen where several homes and buildings were destroyed or damaged in the fire near Batemans Bay on New Year's Eve,

Anna Dunne walks through the remains of her home on the outskirts of Nelligen where several homes and buildings were destroyed or damaged in the fire near Batemans Bay on New Year’s Eve, Credit:Kate Geraghty

As part of the recovery effort, the federal government has given Lifeline a $1.5 million funding boost to set up a dedicated bushfire response phone line to run for the next 12 months.

“And the thing is, it isn’t over yet and it just keeps coming and coming and there are still people sitting on tenterhooks waiting to be burnt out,” he said.

“We have these poor families who have lost everything, businesses who have been destroyed and it is going to take years to recover from what is one of the biggest natural disasters this nation has seen.”

Mr Constance saved his house in Malua Bay on New Year’s Eve but many of his neighbours and friends lost their homes in the firestorm.

Since then, he has remained in his electorate to help residents rebuild and has taken leave until later this month to help with the recovery effort.

He has been travelling across Bega, which stretches for about 280 kilometres, every day to offer practical and emotional support to the victims.

The Berejiklian and Morrison governments last week announced they would split the cost of the bushfire clean-up, which is expected to run into hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mr Constance said the appointment of construction giant Laing O’Rourke Australia as the lead contractor to undertake the clean-up gave people a sense of hope.

“There are just so many people champing at the bit to get the debris on their properties cleared so they can start making decisions about whether to stay and rebuild or sell their land,” he said.

“We will dust overselves off and be OK but it is going to take a long time.”

❏ Support is available for those who may be distressed by phoning Lifeline 13 11 14; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800; beyondblue 1300 224 636.

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