Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund
The Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund was established on February 8 2009 by the Victorian Government in partnership with the Federal Government and Australian Red Cross, to support individuals and communities in towns and suburbs affected by the 2009 Victorian bushfires, the worst natural disaster in Australia’s history.
When the Appeal officially closed on Friday, 17 April, 2009, $379 million had been raised. With interest, that figure now stands at $395 million.
The Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund Independent Advisory Panel, chaired by Pat McNamara, is made up of community leaders who oversee the Fund's operation and the allocation of funds, based on a number of criteria for payments.
From the start, the Advisory Panel has put into action the intent of the Fund “to support individuals and communities in towns and suburbs affected by the 2009 Victorian bushfires”.
The Panel worked hard to provide financial assistance to those who needed it most, particularly in the days, weeks and months immediately following the bushfires.
The Fund has now been fully committed, with nearly $314 million – about 80 per cent of the total amount - allocated for emergency, housing, physical, bereavement and psychological support gifts and programs for individuals and families, and more than $81 million for community-strengthening initiatives in bushfire-affected towns and communities.
Medium and long-term recovery
The Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund has released the final list of projects to receive funding through the $21 million allocation for medium and long-term recovery. The Community Advisory Committee page has the full list of projects and information about the statewide services available to help people who experienced the 2009 Victorian bushfires.
New services for the bereaved
The Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund has announced a range of new support services for those who lost loved ones in the fires. Information about these services can be found on this site.
New website - Piece Together
The Piece Together website is now live and ready for you to log on and join in. An initiative of the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund, Piece Together is the place to catch up with old friends, meet new people and share stories, videos and pictures.
The website is free and offers a safe online community for those who experienced the 2009 bushfires.
Users can post information about events that are happening in their communities, or find friends they may have lost contact with since the fires.
Log on at www.piecetogether.net.au.
Second stage of housing assistance now available
The Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund has announced a second stage of housing assistance to help survivors of the 2009 bushfires find permanent accommodation.
The Further Housing Assistance Gift Stages 1 & 2 provide eligible households with grants to help them finalise the rebuilding of their homes, purchase a new home, or settle in to other long-term accommodation.
Additional vouchers available under extended psychological counselling and wellness voucher programs
The Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund is pleased to announce that survivors of the 2009 Victorian bushfires can now obtain additional vouchers under the psychological counselling and wellness recovery programs.
This means that people who have used up all 12 psychological counselling vouchers – or all four wellness recovery vouchers – can apply for additional rounds of these vouchers and continue their treatment.
As advised earlier this year, both programs have been extended for an additional 12 months until August 2012.
Application forms for an additional round of six psychological counselling vouchers can be obtained from Psychological Support Package page and an additional round of four wellness recovery vouchers can be ordered using the application form on the Bushfire Wellness Voucher Program page.
Counselling program extended
The Psychological Support Packages program to assist those still enduring psychological trauma following the 2009 Victorian Bushfires has been extended by the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund.
The voucher program, which entitles people to up to 12 counselling sessions, was to have ceased in August, 2011, but VBAF’s independent Advisory Panel agreed that the program would be extended for another 12 months.
The similar Bushfire Recovery Wellness Voucher Program which enables people to access complementary therapies and treatments has also been extended until August 2012.
New $16 million allocation for medium and long-term recovery
The Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund has appointed a Community Advisory Committee to provide the Fund panel with valuable advice on how to distribute a new $16 million allocation for medium and long term community projects.
The Fund has set aside $16 million to assist with medium to long term community recovery and the CAC will provide expert advice about the priority needs of bushfire-affected communities during this phase of recovery.
The CAC will hold public forums in affected communities to canvass ideas and suggestions from residents about what projects they believe will best contribute to the medium and long-term recovery of their communities.
In the immediate aftermath of the bushfires, the Advisory Panel made a commitment to meet the priority needs of bushfire affected communities. Funding was allocated to individuals and families to assist with these immediate needs. As time passed, different needs emerged and the Panel developed gifts to reflect these needs.
Thousands of survivors of the bushfires from across Victoria have received fund payments under these initiatives.