Programs and initiatives
Registration is now open for the 2020 Clean-Up Program. This program is voluntary and free of charge for eligible property owners.
The program covers the demolition and disposal of all buildings destroyed or damaged beyond repair by this season’s bushfires. This includes:
- residential homes
- sheds and other out-buildings
- commercial buildings
- public buildings
This may also include the removal of fencing, trees and vehicles, but only where it is necessary for the safe clean-up of destroyed buildings.
Grocon has been contracted to conduct the clean-up on behalf of the Victorian Government.
After you register, Grocon will be in contact to discuss arrangements for the clean-up process and obtain a signed consent form.
This is a voluntary program and is provided free of charge for eligible property owners. You do not need to be insured to be eligible for this program.
Where possible, Grocon will engage local contractors in the clean-up effort to support jobs in fire-affected regions. If you're a qualified contractor who wants to work with Grocon on the clean-up, register your interest
The Victorian Bushfires Case Support program is available for people in fire-affected areas in Gippsland and North East Victoria.
Support coordinators will be a single point of contact, working with local residents to link them directly with vital support, such as information and advice, mental health support or financial counselling.
They will also help with practical things like filling out paperwork, accessing grants and financial claims, and navigating services available through the local council, state and Commonwealth governments.
People in fire-affected areas in Gippsland and North East Victoria are eligible.
The program also includes support for people who may have been impacted by the bushfires in these areas but live in other parts of Victoria.
There is no charge for the services provided by this program.
This initiative is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and the Victorian Government under Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.
Services will be delivered by the following providers.
Other parts of Victoria
The Victorian Government will pay half the cost of materials to repair or upgrade bushfire-damaged fencing that borders National Parks, State Parks and State Forests.
Previously, the Government has paid half the cost of materials to replace bushfire-damaged fencing in these circumstances, but only to its pre-existing standard.
Now, the Government will fund half the cost of materials to provide an upgrade for fire-resistant and pest-resistant fencing to a maximum of $5,000 per kilometre.
Upgrade options include:
- fire-resistant materials, such as steel or concrete components
- pest control designs, such as insulated wires for electric fencing
Where fences have been cut or damaged by fire suppression operations, the Government will fully cover the repair or replacement of the damaged section of fence to the pre-existing standard. This includes internal and boundary fences.
Improved fencing is one option available to landowners. The Government’s offer to cover half the cost of materials is still available to landowners if they just want to replace fencing to its pre-existing standard.
The Victorian Bushfire Appeal has also allocated $1 million, provided through BlazeAid, to assist farmers in replacing fences destroyed by the bushfires on their private property.
The Victorian Bushfires Community Recovery Package will provide $86 million in support to the following local government areas:
- East Gippsland
- Golden Plains
- Northern Grampians
- Southern Grampians
- Recovery grants for farm businesses
- Community and Emergency Services Health: $10 million
- Community Recovery and Resilience Grants: $35 million
- Immediate Reconstruction and Rebuilding Program: $20 million
- Community Recovery Hubs (including mobile hubs): $15 million
- Community Recovery Committees: $6 million
This initiative is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and the Victorian Government under Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.
Recovery Grants for farm businesses
Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grants of up to $75,000 per business are available to assist primary producers directly affected by this season’s bushfires.
Eligible activities include:
- disposing of dead stock
- rebuilding or replacing damaged or destroyed on-farm infrastructure
The Victorian Government is also providing subsidies for primary producers, including apiarists, to pay for emergency farm transport. The subsidy, to be delivered by Rural Finance, will cover up to 50 per cent of total freight costs, to a maximum of $15,000 excluding GST per farm business.
Community and Emergency Services Health: $10 million
The devastation of bushfires can affect the mental wellbeing of those in affected areas. $10 million is being provided to boost some existing mental health services and support kids returning to school.
Community members can seek help through:
- Bushfire Recovery Victoria's Case Support Program:
- Australian Psychological Society Referral Service:
- your local doctor, health centre
- a counsellor or psychologist
Emergency services staff/volunteers and local council members can seek help through existing available wellbeing support programs within your organisation.
Help for bushfire impacted kids returning to school can be found through:
Schools in bushfire-affected areas can contact their existing Department of Education contact or contact:
Community Recovery and Resilience Grants: $35 million
$35 million will support locally-led programs for community connection, engagement and resilience. These grants will be facilitated by:
- Bushfire Recovery Victoria
- Victorian Government departments and councils
- Aboriginal community members
- Community Recovery Committees
Existing grants and programs are listed below.
Regional Development Victoria will work with councils and lead a grants program for community events, arts initiatives and leadership workshops to:
- bring communities together
- build resilience
- assist in healing
- raise awareness of support services
Interested councils can contact:
- Regional Development Victoria - Wangaratta (Phone: , email: )
- Regional Development Victoria - Traralgon (Phone: , email: )
Small Business Bushfire Recovery Grants
Grants of up to $50,000 are now available to eligible Victorian small businesses and non-profit organisations directly affected by the Victorian bushfires.
This program is uncapped and means that businesses and organisations that have sustained damage as a result of the fires can access up to $50,000 in grant funding (tax free).
Concessional loans of up to $500,000 are also available for eligible small businesses (including farmers, fishers and foresters) and non-profit organisations who have suffered significant asset loss or significant loss to revenue
The loan would be for up to 10 years and used for the purposes of restoring or replacing damaged assets and for working capital. The loans will be provided under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.
Community-led recovery initiatives
Bushfire Recovery Victoria will be directly facilitating a grants program, in conjunction with Community Recovery Committees, to support community-led recovery initiatives.
Immediate Reconstruction and Rebuilding Program: $20 million
This program provides:
- temporary housing for those displaced by bushfires
- funding to repair and replace critical water infrastructure
- provide support for planning and building assets for faster resettlement
Community Recovery Hubs: $15 million
$15 million will help establish Community Recovery Hubs in affected-affected areas. The Hubs will provide:
- a safe, central place for community members
- a one-stop-shop for recovery services and programs
If you’re in a remote area and unable to attend a Hub, mobile recovery support units will also be available.
These Community Recovery Hubs will be established by Bushfire Recovery Victoria in partnership with local councils.
Community Recovery Committees: $6 million
Community Recovery Committees will:
- assist local governments and communities to help shape recovery, grants and support programs that reflect the community’s needs
- be made up of representatives from communities within bushfire-affected areas
Each community committee will be established once the community is ready by Bushfire Recovery Victoria and local councils.
Register your interest on the form below if you'd like more information or to be a representative in your community recovery committee.
The Victorian Government has partnered with Bendigo Bank and The Salvation Army to establish the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. 100% of donated funds will go directly to communities in need.
All donations of $2 or more are tax deductible. Donors will receive a tax receipt. The Victorian Bushfire Appeal is being conducted by the Bendigo Bank’s charitable arm, Community Enterprise Foundation ABN 69 694 230 518, The Bendigo Centre, PO Box 480, Bendigo VIC 3552.
What the Victorian Bushfire Appeal will support
More than $5 million is available for those most affected by the bushfires.
Payments to families
Immediate payments of $50,000 will be made to each of the families of people who have tragically died during Victoria’s recent bushfires.
$1 million, provided through BlazeAid, will help farmers replace boundary fences destroyed by the bushfires on their private property.
Funding of up to $4 million will support residents in bushfire-affected areas who have experienced loss of, or damage to, their primary residence.
From $1,000 to $4,500 will go to home owners, renters and people who had more temporary accommodation arrangements.
These payments will be available through the Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund and The Salvation Army.
Victorian Bushfire Appeal Advisory Panel
An Advisory Panel will consider and recommend where funds are distributed. Former Victorian Deputy Premier Pat McNamara will chair the 7-person panel comprised of:
- David Impey, Chief Executive Officer, Community Enterprise Foundation
- Pam White, Chair, Country Fire Authority
- Joanne Duncan, Former member for Gisborne
- Natalie O’Connell, Councillor for East Gippsland Shire
- Sue Cunningham, Director, Victoria, Red Cross
- Lee Miezes, Chief Executive Officer, Bushfire Recovery Victoria
The Foundation will make distributions to grant applicants, as recommended by the Advisory Panel, to organisations endorsed as item 1 Deductible Gift Recipients (DGR).
The Victorian Government will fast-track payroll tax relief, slash stamp duty, waive water rates and give local councils extra support as part of a $64 million package to help fire-affected communities recover.
The package includes:
- Immediate regional payroll tax relief in “State of Disaster” areas, so that regional employers only pay 25 per cent of the metropolitan rate
- A 50% concession on stamp duty for eligible properties, allowing businesses to relocate, expand or move into the fire-affected areas – sending a clear signal that these destinations are open for business
- Waiving water rates for 12 months for all homes or businesses destroyed or significantly damaged by fire, and providing rebates for customers affected by interruptions to their water supply
- $500,000 for grants to regional industry groups and chambers of commerce to facilitate vital networking events, tourism opportunities and pro-bono business partnerships.
- Small business advisers stationed at relief centres to give businesses the support and advice they need
- Support for the wine industry to access technical advice so it’s best placed for this year's vintage
- Waiving the administration fee and fast-tracking refunds for cancelled vehicle registrations, if these vehicles were destroyed by bushfire within a State of Disaster area
- Waiving the administration fee and fast-tracking the replacement of identity documents lost or destroyed by bushfire within a State of Disaster area
The Victorian Government has also announced other tax and fee relief measures:
- Businesses, families, and individuals whose properties have been destroyed or substantially damaged by bushfires will receive relief for their 2020 land tax assessment.
- Land tax will be also be waived on eligible properties being used to provide free accommodation for people who need it
- For people who decide not to rebuild in their local community, the Government will provide up to $55,000 in stamp duty relief if they buy a home elsewhere
- For people who lost motor vehicles due to bushfires, they can receive up to $2,100 in ex-gratia relief from the duty on up to two replacement vehicles
- The State Revenue Office has suspended land tax assessments in affected areas, and will continue to support businesses in fire-affected areas
The Victorian Government will also establish a $10 million Council Assistance Fund, administered by Bushfire Recovery Victoria, for local governments in State of Disaster areas to access funding for people who have damaged or destroyed property, support businesses subject to annual charges or permits, or to waive other fees or charges.
Eligible councils will be able to determine how best to allocate their funding, which may include rate relief for residents and businesses if they choose.
The Victorian Government will also provide Councils $7.3 million to put in place dedicated local teams to coordinate and drive bushfire recovery efforts.
The Victorian Government will also make sure people can dispose of their bushfire waste without paying the . Bushfire waste includes the debris from homes, businesses, sheds, stock, fencing and equipment that have been damaged.
The levy waiver will also make it easier for people to dispose of dead livestock. Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) will work with landfill operators and councils in fire-affected areas to apply for the exemption.
Government support for tourism operators
Tourism North East and Destination Gippsland will each receive a $200,000 grant to assist with their immediate recovery efforts.
This includes support for a dedicated staff member to work directly with operators and coordinate marketing and campaign activities.
Business and Sport for Bushfire Recovery
The Victorian Government has also released details of a new initiative that will see more than 115 major organisations hold multi-day stays in bushfire affected areas in regional Victoria.
More than 185 organisations have already backed the initiative, including the Herald & Weekly Times, AFL, NAB, Richmond Football Club, Cricket Australia, Crown, Tennis Australia, Alibaba, Swisse, PwC, Bosch Australia and AustralianSuper.
Bushfire Recovery events program
The Victorian Government has announced that a round of the Regional Events Fund will deliver up to $300,000 for events in bushfire-affected areas. Visit Victoria is managing the program and has made changes to the standard guidelines and processes in order to fast-track support for bushfire-affected communities.
The Victorian Government has announced a $13.45 million package to support communities most impacted by the bushfires. This includes a focus on the Alpine, East Gippsland or Towong local government areas.
The package for government and non-government students includes:
- $5 million to extend the Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund to all eligible primary and secondary school students
- $4 million to boost mental health support for government and non-government schools, including additional psychologists and social workers
- $3.8 million to establish a Trauma Recovery Team to provide the trauma response support to affected schools and kindergarten services
Additional supports will also be provided across the Ararat, Ballarat, Glenelg, Golden Plains, Indigo, Mansfield, Northern Grampians, Pyrenees, Southern Grampians, Wangaratta, Wellington and Wodonga local government areas based against eligibility criteria.
The package also includes $650,000 in kindergarten fee subsidies to give families free or low-cost access to the four-year-old Kindergarten program. This will apply to families of children who are residents of or attending a funded kindergarten service in the Alpine, East Gippsland or Towong areas.
These initiatives build on a $2.5 million support package already announced to help school students from bushfire-affected areas with the cost of items such as uniforms, books and stationery.
The Commonwealth and Victorian Governments announced that households in the local government areas of East Gippsland and Towong can now access the following emergency payments to relieve personal hardship:
- Emergency Relief Assistance Payments, which provide payments of up to $560 per adult and $280 per child (up to a maximum of $1960 per eligible household) are available to help meet immediate needs, including emergency food, shelter, clothing and personal items.
- Emergency Re-establishment Payments provide up to $42,250 per eligible household experiencing financial hardship, who have been affected by fire at their primary place of residence. The grants will be available for clean-up, emergency accommodation, repairs, rebuilding (a principal place of residence), and replacing some damaged contents.
Households should contact their local council, or visit a relief centre, to discuss assistance options.
The funding arrangements will also allow for state government agencies and the East Gippsland and Towong councils to apply for funding to help cover the restoration of essential public assets such as roads and public hospitals. Affected local councils should contact the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance via email to discuss the availability of assistance.
The Victorian Government has announced a $17.5 million initial rescue package to support Victoria’s bushfire impacted wildlife and biodiversity.
It will be targeted to those species most at risk, including the Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby (Victoria’s most endangered mammal), the Long-footed Potoroo and the Large Brown Tree Frog. It’s estimated 185 of Victoria’s species, many of them rare and threatened, have already been impacted by the fire emergency.
Wildlife Triage Units and Wildlife Assessment Teams are in operation in and around the fire grounds and targeted supplementary feeding is being delivered to wildlife via food drops from the air and on the ground.
The funding announced is in addition to grants of up to $1,000 that have been made available to shelters and foster carers helping to care and rehabilitate native wildlife impacted by the fires.
Reviewed 21 February 2020