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The Kinniburgh Family

Sarsfield’s John and Carole Kinniburgh lost their house in the fires. When they moved into rental accommodation a while away from their property, they “had to make the trek back every day” to feed the animals and take care of things.

In September, they moved into modular housing, where they will stay until the rebuild of their permanent home is complete. John says of the new home:

“We can be on-site, relax and watch the building take place.”

The short-term modular housing program is a way for people who lost their houses in the fires to live in brand new, comfortable and secure homes, back on their land and in their community, for up to three years while they rebuild. The homes are delivered straight to sites, connected up to services and come fully furnished with the support of charitable organisations such as GIVIT (givit.org. au).

Ordinarily, modular homes of this quality would cost about $150,000, but households will only pay a small fee benchmarked to public housing rates. The fee can be further reduced if households are in financial hardship.

Dozens of modular houses have been built and installed. More are under construction. The program is funded by the Australian and Victorian Governments and delivered by BRV.

Quick facts

  • 313 principal places of residence damaged or destroyed
  • 143 planning permits approved by local councils
  • 188 households accessed the free Rebuilding Support Service
  • 115 uninsured or underinsured households received emergency payments of up to $42,000

Appeal

Thanks to the generosity of donors to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal, everyone who lost their primary place of residence received payments of $40,000, on top of any insurance payments or the many other available public or charitable grants they may have received, including up to $42,000 for uninsured or underinsured households and up to $75,000 for directly-impacted farm properties.

After the Fires

From day one after the fires, everyone who lost their home could access government-supported emergency housing through the Bushfire Recovery Case Support program. Where families instead opted for their own private housing arrangements, Case Support was a regular presence, checking in on individual welfare, navigating processes and arranging financial or wellbeing services where needed.

To give people more options and help them rebuild successfully and safely, the Government has put in place a number of changes and support measures including:

  • Offering a free ‘one stop shop’ Rebuilding Support Service, which 188 property owners have used to date to get advice and complete a planning permit application for council approval
  • Funding assessments required in the rebuilding process, including up to $20,000 for the replacement of rainwater and septic tanks, and more
  • Completed 504 free preliminary bushfire hazard assessments for damaged and destroyed properties, saving property owners up to $3000
  • Established a Complex Site Taskforce of bushfire and planning experts to work on-site with property owners to identify safer construction solutions
  • Streamlining planning provisions
  • Providing more funding to councils to increase their capacity to assess planning applications

The Giles Family

Milusa and Kevin Giles are wildflower farmers who lost their home and crop in the fires. They’ve been togetherfor 41 years, and have lived in Sarsfield for the last 24 of them. Milusa said:

“We’ve lost years’ worth of work. Kevin will be 65 when we’re starting again with the business.”

Milusa felt “blessed” to be able to spend Christmas in their permanently rebuilt four-bedroom home.

“It was very exciting to get into the new house after such a long year... although it was really hard to leave the caravan in the end because it’s been so good to us.

“It’s a relief to have all the builders gone. We get a bit of the privacy back now. We can start moving on now. We’re just blessed for that.

“This is our home. This is where we have lived most of our lives. It’s a new stage in our life now and we can start making beautiful memories here again.”

Reviewed 26 August 2021

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