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The project

The bushfire clean-up after the 2019-20 fires was like no other that Victoria has encountered.

Compared to previous events, destroyed sites were more impacted and more isolated, and were sometimes located in mountainous areas that took days for crews and machines to access safely.

Some larger farm properties contained as many as ten structures requiring demolition and removal.

Despite these challenges, the clean-up was completed on schedule in August. The clean-up was free for the owners of all 736 properties cleared. 547 sites were located in East Gippsland Shire, 183 were in Towong Shire and 6 were in Alpine and other shires.

The 2020 Clean-up Program is delivered by BRV and funded by the Australian and Victorian Governments.

Quick facts

  • 75000 tonnes of waste cleared
  • 2500 individual structures cleared
  • 736 properties across Victoria cleared of all buildings destroyed or damaged in the fires
  • 60 properties cleared every week at the project’s peak
  • 9 average truckloads of waste produced per property in East Gippsland

Safety first

Under the law, all bushfire waste is treated as asbestos-contaminated, and only specially-qualified Class A contractors could directly handle it. Sites were monitored for asbestos particles daily. Waste was hosed down, bagged and transported in plastic-lined trucks, which travelled 1.2 million kilometres to local waste facilities to dispose of it safely.

Kevin Perry's Story

Crews used innovative ways to let homeowners safely uncover lost belongings and treasures, such as using iPads to guide the search.

Sarsfield’s Kevin Perry (below) feared his emergency services medals were lost to the fire, but when the clean-up crews arrived at his property, Kevin said:

“They had the compassion to get stuck in there and find what was meaningful - they went in there with all the masks and protective gear on, bringing things out bit by bit.”

The crews found Kevin’s Emergency Services Medal, which was handed to him by the Governor of Victoria after 31 years of service in the SES.

Jobs

Over half the workers on the clean-up hailed from bushfire-affected postcodes.

Some local firms with a Class A demolition license worked directly on waste removal while others were engaged in important supporting roles.

The essential works brought plenty of business to local hotels and cafes during the height of COVID restrictions.

Reviewed 26 August 2021

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