Council welcomes Victorian Government's support program for bushfire clean up

Published: 8 April 2019

Cardinia Shire Council has welcomed the Victorian Government’s announcement on Friday (5 April) of a clean-up program for property owners impacted by the Bunyip Complex bushfires.

Uninsured property owners who choose to take part in the program will have up to 75 percent of their clean-up costs funded.

Insured property owners who participate will have up to 50 percent of the costs covered that are passed on by the insurance company, up to a maximum of $12,500.

A representative from Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) announced the clean-up program at a community meeting held last Friday night (5 April) at the bushfire recovery centre at Tonimbuk Hall. Around 150 people attended the meeting.

The meeting was an opportunity for residents to get the latest information from a number of agencies involved in the recovery, and to have questions addressed that were developed at an earlier community meeting held on Friday 29 April.

Cardinia Shire Deputy Mayor Cr Collin Ross said the clean-up program will be welcomed by residents of the 286 properties in Cardinia Shire that were affected by the bushfires.

“This funding will help residents take the first difficult and important steps to recovery,” Cr Ross said.

Cr Ross said Council is continuing to work hard to help community members to get back on their feet, in partnership with community groups.

“We are partnering with Lions Club, Rotary and St Vincent de Paul to coordinate the operations of the bushfire recovery centre at Tonimbuk Hall. It’s proving to be an important central meeting place and contact point for those affected by the fires,” Cr Ross said.

Volunteers from local community groups are at the recovery centre from 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week,with Council staff there from 10am to 3pm on weekdays. 

“The support provided by these and other local community groups has been invaluable, and will continue to be in the months to come. On behalf of the community, I sincerely thank all volunteers for their huge and heartfelt efforts,” Cr Ross said. 

Payments from a fundraising partnership between the Casey Cardinia Foundation and the Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund are now being distributed to those who experienced building losses. A total of $170,000 will be distributed to around 75 households.

“Thank you to everyone who has donated so far to these fundraising appeals – donations are still very much welcome,” Cr Ross said.

Residents who need assistance with insurance claims and coping with their trauma are encouraged to attend upcoming information sessions.

An Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) representative will be at the recovery centre this Thursday (11 April) from 10am to 3pm, offering information to affected policyholders. The ICA is also hosting an information night at the centre on Tuesday 16 April from 5 to 7pm. Residents can register to attend by calling 1800 734 621.  

Trauma expert and psychologist, Dr Rob Gordon, will also deliver a free information session on Wednesday 1 May at 7pm at the recovery centre. Registrations are not required and all bushfire-affected community members are welcome.

Council-appointed contractors began a detailed impact assessment of the fire zone today (Monday 8 April). Impact assessments are a legislative requirement of local government, and are important for establishing what the affected community needs to recover.

As the community moves into the clean-up phase of the recovery, Council’s Recovery team continues to be in phone contact with residents on a number of matters, including to obtain bank account details so they can receive relief funding, and organise water tank rinses and fills.

Deputy Mayor Cr Collin Ross said local government plays a very important role in supporting community recovery after a bushfire. 

“Council will continue to advocate for the needs of those affected by the fires, and work hard to give them the support and information they need,” Cr Ross said.

“The community impacted by these fires is strong and united, and the way everyone is rallying to help and support each other is nothing short of amazing,” Cr Ross said.

“Let’s all keep pulling together during what is an enormously tough time for these residents.”