2009 Bushfires

February 2019 marks the 10 Year Anniversary of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires which was one of the most significant disasters Victoria has experienced.

The anniversary is a time to reflect and remember the 173 people who died in the bushfires, and to learn about how the fires changed the lives of so many, and how communities have rebuilt. Many Victorians still experience the effects of the bushfires and the severe heatwaves that occurred in early 2009.

The Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria, is the Patron for the tenth-anniversary commemorations.

An advisory panel has been established, chaired by former Premier John Brumby and including former Deputy Premier and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Patrick McNamara, one of the 3 Commissioners on the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commissioner. Ms Susan Pascoe AM, and former Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority (VBRRA), Mr Ben Hubbard.

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Supporting Victorians to remember and recover

The Victorian Government is contributing $4.4 million to support anniversary activities, including in communities affected by the 2009 Victorian Bushfires.

The funding is supporting the:

  • state memorial commemoration
  • Community Arts Grants Program
  • Commemoration and Community Development Grants Scheme
  • targeted teaching and learning support for schools
  • expanded mental health and psychological support services.

State anniversary commemoration

The state anniversary commemoration, to be held in February 2019 in central Melbourne, will complement community commemorations being held throughout January and February. This event will provide an opportunity for Victorians to gather in a central location to remember and reflect on the anniversary. Details will be available here in the coming months.

To learn about what is planned in your community or region, please contact your local council.

Community Arts Grants Program

These grants are for creative projects that reflect the experiences of local communities. Communities and individuals from the 21 local government areas directly affected by the 2009 Victorian Bushfires are eligible to apply. Funding up to $8,000 for each local government area is available through Regional Arts Victoria and applications opened on 22 October 2018. Find out more or apply through Regional Arts Victoria.

Commemoration and Community Development Grants Scheme

Applications for this scheme are now closed.

The Commemoration and Community Development Grants Scheme grants are for two purposes:

  • Commemorative activities - supporting local commemorative events and memorials for the 2009 Victorian Bushfires and
  • Community development activities - supporting activities or initiatives that strengthen local communities.

Participating councils have notified all successful applicants.

You can email local.government@delwp.vic.gov.au to request further information. Please use the subject “2009 Victorian Bushfires Commemoration and Community Development Grants Scheme” in your email.

Targeted teaching and learning support for schools

The Victorian Government funding is supporting two projects relating to schools. One project will increase support and resources for schools affected by the 2009 Victorian Bushfires. The other project will examine how the bushfires affected the learning of students who were studying in the bushfire areas at the time. This project is in partnership with the University of Melbourne. More information is available through the Department of Education and Training website.

Expanded mental health and psychological support services

The 2009 bushfires were a traumatic and distressing event. As the anniversary approaches, people may experience different emotional and physical reactions. These feelings are normal and on most occasions, will subside again within a few weeks as part of the body’s natural healing and recovery process.

Extra Victorian Government funding will increase mental health and health support, through existing services, for bushfire-affected communities and first responders, and support the provision of psychological first aid at commemorative events.

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is providing extra support to existing, trusted, local service providers wherever possible to make sure communities have access to services which are tailored to their needs.

These include counselling services; mental health, alcohol and other drugs counselling; community engagement activities; and GP locums.

To access these local services you can speak with your doctor or a mental health professional.

Anyone experiencing problems or changes in behaviour should contact their doctor, mental health professional, or Lifeline on 13 11 14 for help and support.

More support services and recovery advice is available on the DHHS website.

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