CEO East Gippsland Shire Council
During devastating bushfires that ripped through East Gippsland last summer, Anthony Basford recalls a moment that brought home the enormity of the situation.
“I vividly remember standing on a high point next to the Mitchell River in Bairnsdale and the whole sky was red. As far as I could see, the horizon was glowing as the fire burned. It was extraordinary to see,” he says.
The Black Summer fires destroyed about 250 homes and burned about one million hectares of land but after some good rainfall, the paddocks are green once more.
“People in East Gippsland are resilient and they value their connections to community. People love living here,” says Anthony.
Anthony joined Yarra Valley Grammar in Grade 5 and has good memories of School Camps and Geography classes that allowed him to explore the great outdoors.
“We went to Central Australia in Year 10. We travelled by bus and visited Uluru, camped, saw floods at Lake Eyre and flowers on the Birdsville Track…awesome.”
This influenced his decision to study Environmental Science at university. After his degree, Anthony travelled and this remains a passion. He has explored Europe and America, and Easter Island and Alaska are on his wish list.
Anthony began his working life as a teacher in the UK where he helped children from disadvantaged backgrounds who were challenging the school system. When he returned to Australia a few years later, he moved to local government.
In his current role as CEO, he oversees the bushfire recovery activities and the provision of support and amenities so communities can renew and rebuild.
“Being a leader is a journey – we’re a collection of our experiences over time. Leading this organisation is a team effort and I’m committed to the job and to leading this organisation through some extraordinary times. COVID-19 has added another twist but the people in this area are very resilient.”
The Yarra motto still holds relevancy for Anthony years after he left the school.
“I’m an optimistic person and ‘no’ is not in my vocabulary. I once read a quote that said ‘while someone is saying that something can’t be done, someone else is doing it’. It’s important to have optimism.
“I also think it’s important to do the right thing, even if that is hard. We all face hurdles but you have to get over them, move on and do what you want to do.”