Bunyip Complex bushfires - business, farm and economic recovery

  • Susie Wickes, our Economic Recovery Officer, is working full time until September 2022 to help fire-affected businesses that are now being further impacted by COVID-19.
  • We encourage all businesses in the bushfire area to contact Susie to see how she can help. Contact Susie by email at s.wickes@cardinia.vic.gov.au or by calling 0435 173 746
  • Support for local businesses is also available at our Cardinia Business portal


  • The West Gippsland Progress Association (WGPA) has partnered with Council’s Bushfire Recovery Team to work towards long-lasting recovery for the bushfire-affected community.
  • Council is supporting the WGPA to launch a food and tourism strategy to put West Gippsland on the Melbourne tourist map. 
  • The West Gippsland Food and Tourism Strategy is available on the West Gippsland Progress Association website
  • If you run a farm or business in the rural areas between Pakenham and Warragul, the WGPAis offering you the chance to be involved in implementing the strategy. 

About the food and tourism strategy 

The strategy aims to:

  • support business recovery following the Bunyip Complex Bushfires
  • promote West Gippsland’s tourism products and experiences, and the region’s food tourism/agritourism point of difference. 
  • outline key actions for the region as it strives towards sustainable tourism that delivers economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits into the future.
  • provide a strong foundation for future long-term tourism planning and development.
  • provide local government, industry, stakeholders and the community with a clear analysis of West Gippsland tourism. 

Opportunity to get involved in the new food and tourism strategy 

Local businesses are encouraged to get involved in the first stage of the strategy:

  • Have your business featured in the marketing collateral (printed, online, film)
  • Registration with Australia Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW)
  • Free quality tourism training

To get involved, please contact info@westgippslandprogassoc.org.au

More information 

To find out more contact Barry Crees or Susie Wickes. 

Ph: 0400 204 393 
Email: info@westgippslandprogassoc.org.au 

Ph: 0435 173 746 
Email: s.wickes@cardinia.vic.gov.au

Businesses impacted by the bushfires, storms and COVID-19 are invited to attend a free business recovery workshop hosted by Cardinia Shire Council and Baw Baw Shire Council.

The workshop is facilitated by Jan Barned, one of the country’s leading small business experts and author of ‘Disaster Recovery Tool Kit.  

The workshop will be held at these times:

  • Tuesday 15 March from 10am to 2pm at Walhalla Mechanics’ Institute, 98-108 Main Rd, Walhalla
  • Wednesday 16 March from 10am to 2pm at Emerald Hills Hub, 402 Belgrave-Gembrook Rd, Emerald.

Lunch will be provided.

The in-person workshops will be subject to COVID19 restrictions and may be moved online if required.  


There are limited spaces available and registration is essential for catering purposes – to secure your spot email Council’s Economic Recovery Officer Susie Wickes on recovery@cardinia.vic.gov.au

What the workshops will cover

The workshop will provide you with the tools to:

  • plan for future disaster events
  • address key issues following disaster events to ensure your business recovers successfully
  • use proven methods to reset your business to benefit from future opportunities
  • implement simple business improvement ideas to ensure that your business is prepared for future disaster events
  • Farmers Assistance Hotline: 132 316 for farming families experiencing financial hardship. (Mon to Fri, 8am to 8pm).
  • Centrelink: 132 850
  • Insurance Council of Australia disaster hotline: 1800 734 621 Claims from affected policyholders will be given priority.
  • Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS): 1300 045 747 Free financial counselling to farmers and small related businesses.
  • State Trustees: 1300 138 672
  • Superannuation: 1300 131 060 (early access on compassionate grounds)
  • Victorian Disaster Legal Aid: 1800 677 402
  • Consumer Affairs Victoria: 1300 55 81 81 or www.consumer.vic.gov.au/disasterhelp
  • Australian Passport Information Service: 131 232 you may be eligible for a free replacement passport if it has been lost or damaged in the fires.

Fence support for primary producers

Bushfire Recovery Victoria (BRV), Rural Aid and Macedon Ranges Shire Council are teaming up to give away free fence posts to primary producers.

  • The program is available for primary producers located in Cardinia Shire.
  • The fence posts are made from storm-damaged timber that originated from 6 local government areas impacted by the June 2021 storms and floods.
  • The timber is repurposed from green waste obtained over the course of BRV’s Residential Storm and Flood Clean-up program.
  • To be eligible, you must provide supporting documentation that shows you are a primary producer with a current ABN. You also need to be registered with Rural Aid.

For more information and to submit an expression of interest visit the Rural Aid website

Recovery grants for primary producers

Primary producers impacted by the June 2021 storm can apply for grants of up to $25,000 to recover costs associated with recovery activities.

This includes:

  • removing fallen trees, silt and debris
  • specialist support for landslip and erosion
  •  repairs or replacement of damaged farm infrastructure such as fencing and equipment.

For more information or to apply for a grant visit the Rural Finance website

  • Want locals to know where your business is? List it on the Buy Local map on the Cardinia Business portal.
  • If you’re looking for assistance with your farm or business, the Cardinia Business team is here to help.

More info: Cardinia Business 

Business Victoria has free business programs available. The wide range of practical help and resources are aimed to prepare individuals and businesses for a stronger recovery.

More info: Business Victoria

The Australian Tax Office (ATO)  has a series of free webinars available that cover both general and industry-specific areas of tax obligations for small businesses.

  • The webinars are interactive online seminars presented by experienced tax officers.
  • The webinars are live and you can ask questions to help you apply the information to your situation.
  • Each session runs for approximately 45 to 60 minutes.

These sessions may be suitable if you are:

  • Starting a new business or just thinking about starting one
  • Updating your knowledge
  • Work in any of the industry-specific areas advertised
  • Closing your business

To view the list of topics or register for a webinar visit the Australian Tax Office website

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