The Victorian Government has launched a bushfire relief plan, including a blueprint for the state’s fire-affected regions and over $110 million for job-boosting local projects.

Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Lisa Neville, released the Bushfire Recovery Victoria’s Eastern Victoria Fires 2019-20 State Recovery Plan, which sets out the journey ahead for bushfire-affected communities over the next 12 to 18 months, as they move from the short-term ‘stabilising’ phase to longer-term rebuilding and recovery.

“With the clean-up almost complete, the State Recovery Plan now helps bushfire-affected communities turn to the next stage in the journey – getting back on their feet, getting works underway and getting things done,” Ms Neville said.

“We’re delivering 18 critical, region-wide projects right now, and a further $34.3 million for projects shaped and supported by local communities into the future.”

The plan outlines $78.06 million for region-wide projects vital for recovery including:

  • $10 million to repair and reinstate roads, crossings and fire-tower infrastructure and $8 million to ensure the safety of the arterial road network
  • $8 million to deliver and install more high-quality, short-term modular homes and $4.4 million for support, services and rebates to help locals plan and complete their rebuild
  • $7.7 million to fund new seed stocks and directly sow forest areas by hand and helicopter, and $5 million to protect rare and threatened species from pests and predators
  • $7.15 million to upgrade infrastructure at Cape Conran to make it ‘visitor-ready’
  • $6.4 million for safety works in parks and forests so they are fit for public use and $1.2 million to support a major event review of Regional Forest Agreements
  • $4.8 million to support Aboriginal community organisations, businesses, jobs and infrastructure
  • $5.1 million to fund legal assistance and $2 million to provide tailored financial counselling for bushfire-affected individuals and businesses
  • $3.6 million to further boost the capacity of councils – Victoria’s key partners in recovery
  • $1.95 million to strengthen the resilience of schools and help them prepare for future disasters
  • $1.88 million to increase family violence support services, including early intervention programs, and $88,000 to support health and housing services.

Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, said, “The devastating effects of these fires on our wildlife and biodiversity are well known – that’s why this funding is so important to help us continue supporting their recovery so they can survive and thrive”

In addition, the State Recovery Plan also delivers $34.3 million towards the Local Economic Recovery program – matching a previous Commonwealth Government contribution.

Both levels of government will work together on economic recovery projects shaped and supported by local communities including councils, Community Recovery Committees, businesses and other local groups.

The State Recovery Plan is underpinned by the State Recovery Framework and sets an agenda for recovery across the natural environment, buildings and infrastructure, business and economy and health and wellbeing.

In an Australian first, the Plan also sets out a recovery plan for Aboriginal culture and healing – recognising the unique impact of the disaster on Aboriginal community and Country.

Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams, said, “Aboriginal culture, community and Country was uniquely impacted by this disaster – this Plan will help Aboriginal Victorians get the support they need – on their own terms.”

The 2019-20 bushfires were the most extensive in living memory. The fires burnt over 1.5 million hectares, destroyed hundreds of properties, significantly affected local economies and tragically, took five lives.

Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Ben Carroll, said, “Thousands of kilometres of road was damaged and lined with hazardous, burnt-out trees. With the most urgent safety measures already complete, we’re now funding the next stage to protect the safety of locals and visitors.”

The State Recovery Plan focuses heavily on helping communities during the rebuilding phase of recovery – in the aftermath of the fires the Victorian Government acted quickly to ensure access to emergency housing, deliver the Victorian Bushfires Case Support Program, undertake the massive state-wide clean-up, and administer tens of millions in grants to families and businesses. 

Bushfire Recovery Hubs were established across the fire-affected areas and Community Recovery Committees soon followed.

With clean-up nearly complete, and over 2,500 destroyed or damaged structures cleared free-of-charge from over 700 properties, eligible bushfire-affected households are now getting dedicated planning advice and support and the option of high-quality short-term modular housing to live in for up to three years while they progress their permanent rebuild.

Including this extra funding, the Victorian Government has now invested more than $420 million for bushfire response and recovery.

For more information, and to read the State Recovery Plan, click here.

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