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Bushfire support and information

Council recognises this is a difficult time for the community. On this page you’ll find essential information and advice on support and services available to you provided by Council and other government and non-government agencies.


Financial assistance payments

Water tanks and drinking water

Power supplies

Farm and livestock

Mental health and wellbeing after bushfires

Community donations


East Gippsland community documents

Waste disposal fact sheet, updated 10 March 2020  

Bushfire Community Newsletter

Mallacoota, Genoa and district Community Newsletter, 30 March 2020  


Fact sheets

Agriculture Victoria

Environment Protection Authority

Vic Emergency




Road closures

Refer to Vic Traffic via their app, facebook page or website


Bushfire Recovery Centre

At our Service Street, Bairnsdale office, open weekdays 8.30am to 5pm, Saturday 8.30am to 1pm


It’s a one-stop-shop for bushfire-related enquiries.


You can also make fire-related enquiries by phone to 03 5153 9500 and our staff will assist in identifying which services you may need to access.

All general Council enquiries should be made at the other Bairnsdale offices.


Case Support Program for fire affected communities

After a bushfire, sometimes people are unsure of what to do next.

The Bushfire Case Support Program provides practical support for bushfire affected people.


Case Support Coordinators can help you with:

  • discussing your needs and the next steps you could take 
  • information and support to access services   
  • completing paperwork   
  • community information  
  • financial counselling and assistance with insurance   
  • advice for business owners  
  • a small amount of financial support to help with immediate needs.

Support can be provided face to face, over the phone or at a location that suits you.

To access this program or find out more call 1800 560 760 8am–6pm weekdays and 9am–5pm weekends) or email bushfirerecovery@windermere.org.au


Secondary property assessments

Secondary assessments are progressing in communities cleared by the Incident Controller.


This is an in-depth assessment of how a property has been impacted including:

  • the safety of sites and/or partly damaged buildings, 
  • if septic systems have been compromised, 
  • emergency orders, 
  • identifying hazards such as asbestos. This work may also help with owners’ insurance claims.

Staff will need to enter private property; we will work with owners where possible.

They will carry identification showing their need to be on site. There may be instances where notices are placed on structures etc notifying about hazards on site.


Emergency works - native vegetation

In the aftermath of the bushfires, you may be wondering what to do about damaged native vegetation on your property.


If you believe fire-damaged trees on your property are a safety risk, you need to get a qualified aborist to inspect the tree to determine whether the tree is a risk.


Council does not inspect trees on private property, you will need to arrange your own arborist. 


Removal of any vegetation that does not fit the above criteria may need planning approval. Contact council on 5153 9500 to discuss your situation.


DHHS Personal Hardship Assistance Program

A Personal Hardship Assistance Program information line 1800 961 054


This hotline will support affected Victorians by providing information on Personal Hardship Assistance Program, including eligibility criteria and guidance as to where individuals and families can go for assessment.


The hotline is available 9am-5pm daily.


A one-off payment (up to $1960 for families/$560 for individuals) is provided to help meet immediate needs, including emergency food, shelter, clothing, medication and accommodation.


A needs assessment is carried out by a Personal Hardship Assistance Officer at an Emergency Relief Centre to determine eligibility.


Relief payments are not available to:

  • Tourists
  • Cover the costs of cleaning up fallen trees or branches on properties
  • Cover the cost of repairing or replacing fences. If a tree has fallen on your house, please call the SES or your local council for more information  

  • Cover loses or impacts associated with power outages. Contact your energy distributor if you have any questions
  • Cover business losses or compensate for lost income
  • Repair or tow motor vehicle  
  • Pay insurance excess.

More information on assistance:  

  • Department of Health and Human Services: 1800 961 054  www.services.dhhs.vic.gov.au
  • VicEmergency hotline: 1800 226 226  
  • VicEmergency website: www.emergency.vic.gov.au


Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment

To receive this payment, you need to have been adversely affected by the fire. For example, your principal place of residence has been significantly damaged.

The fastest way to claim is over the phone. Call 180 22 66 (please note the 180 is correct) to claim over the phone, or go to the website


Disaster Recovery Allowance

  • Support for people who can show they have lost income as a direct result of the bushfires in Victoria in December 2019 and January 2020.
  • You have until 30 June 2020 to make a claim for the following Local Government Areas: East Gippsland.
  • For more information, visit this link on the  Department of Human Services website or contact the Australian Government Information Hotline on 180 22 66 for claims assistance.



Other financial assistance and support

  • Centrelink: 132 850


  • Insurance Council of Australia disaster hotline: More info: 1800 734 621


  • Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS): Free financial counselling to farmers and small related businesses who are in, or at risk of financial hardship. Call 1300 045 747

    ·         Farm household allowance: For farming families in financial hardship. Call the Farmers Assistance Hotline on 132 316 (Mon to Fri, 8am to 8pm).

    ·         Salvation Army: DHHS at Emergency Relief Centres may refer people to Salvation Army for additional assistance.


  • State Trustees: 1300 138 672


  • Superannuation (early access on compassionate grounds): 1300 131 060 


  • Victorian Disaster Legal Aid: 1800 677 402


  • Consumer Affairs Victoria: Information and advice about your rights and obligations following an emergency, including on renting and rebuilding, and insurance. Visit www.consumer.vic.gov.au/disasterhelp or call 1300 55 81 81


  • Australian Passport Information Service: You may be eligible for a free replacement passport if it has been lost or damaged in the bushfire.  Call 131 232.


  • Telstra: 132 203 to register for a relief package and/or assistance with free or interim services during the recovery period.

Water tanks

Anyone seeking emergency water assistance from the bushfire affected areas should contact South East Water on 131 851.


 South East Water is the initial contact point for bushfire affected residents who need emergency relief water, as well as coordinating the delivery of water across affected areas.


Eligible permanent residents in the declared bushfire affected areas of East Gippsland will be provided a tank water flush and top-up of 5,000 litres.

The program doesn’t include a tank clean.


It is possible your water tank supply will be contaminated after a bushfire. Boiling water does not remove fire retardants or other chemicals from your water.


For more info on ash in water tanks, see the fact sheets on Council’s website: www.eastgippsland.vic.gov.au/Services/Public_Health/Bushfires_and_your_health or call the EPA on 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).


Community bores

People affected by the bushfires can access emergency untreated water supplies at:

Swifts Creek Recreation Reserve has a connection point for people to fill up a water cube. You need a male 50mm Camlock fitting and pump. Limit use to 1,000 litres each so resources are not depleted.

Goose Gully, 90 Balfours Rd, Lucknow has a standpipe. Use is capped at 4000 litres per person per day. 7am to 7pm daily.

For more information visit www.srw.com.au/east-gippsland-fires/ or phone (03) 5139 3100.



Replacement of water used for firefighting

Property owners who have had water taken from dams or other private water supplies by DELWP or CFA can apply to have the water replaced.


Essential water replacement requests must be submitted within 3 months of the water being taken.


To make a request, fill in the Essential Water Replacement form.

Enquiries: Call 1800 226 226.


Town water supplies

Refer to East Gippsland Water: www.egwater.vic.gov.au or call: 1800 671 841


Power supply issues

AusNet Services is responsible for the electricity network in eastern Victoria.

You can contact them if you are trying to reconnect, understand outage lengths and to keep up to date with changing issues around electricity:


Department of Health and Human Services

The department's Better Health Channel has a range of fact sheets to support your health during this time. 

  • Before a bushfire 
  • During a bushfire
  • Clean up after a bushfire 
  • Financial assistance 
  • Mental health and recovery


Farm and livestock

Agriculture Victoria staff are working with affected landholders to assess injured livestock and losses of agricultural assets and livestock.

  • For information on bushfire recovery: Call 136 186 or visit www.agriculture.vic.gov.au/animalemergencies
  • To report wandering livestock: Call Council on 5153 9500. Council has raised the issue of providing water for stock with Agriculture Victoria.

Agricultural Victoria can provide technical advice and help you make decisions on topics such as:

  • agisting livestock affected by a bushfire
  • assessing livestock after a bushfire
  • stock containment areas
  • pasture recovery

For more info on these topics go to Agriculture Victoria's Gippsland and Upper Murray Fires Recovery page or call 136 186.


Deceased livestock

  • Report deceased livestock: to Agriculture Victoria on 1800 226 226


  • Burying deceased livestock: If you bury livestock please follow EPA guidelines. You can find information on these guidelines by calling the EPA 24 hours a day on 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842). You can also go to www.epa.vic.gov.au and search for ‘Bushfire waste disposal.’


The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) is leading the drive to provide fodder to affected farmers and is establishing depots where fodder can be delivered and collected.


Landholders who need emergency fodder, and those who want to donate fodder to help out, should contact the VFF on 1300 882 833 or email fodder@vff.org.au


Agricultural fencing

Landholders are asked to stockpile their fencing waste. Council is awaiting details on how that waste may be collected.


Please do not use council’s waste facilities, including rubbish trailers and skip bins, to dispose of this material.

Where fire has damaged or destroyed fences between private land and national/state parks or state forests, the Victorian Government will meet 50 per cent of the cost of materials.


For further details, please see Repair of Fences Damaged by Bushfire and Fire Control Line Rehabilitation Policy – Forest Fire Management


Help for injured wildlife

You can also use the online ‘Help for injured wildlife’ tool from DEWLP to find and contact the closest wildlife carers and rescue and rehabilitation organisations. Go to www.wildlife.vic.gov.au and search for ‘Help for injured wildlife tool.’


Smoke and your health

Smoke can contain fine particles, which present a health concern because they can be breathed into your lungs. These are the particles that can be present in ash and soot.

Ash and soot can be irritating to the lungs and the skin. Breathing these fine particles deeply into the lungs can cause breathing problems and worsen pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease.


Signs of short-term irritation such as itchy eyes, skin irritations, sore throat, runny nose and coughing usually clear up in healthy adults once you’re away from the smoke.


If these symptoms don’t improve quickly once you’re away from the smoke, contact NURSE-ON-CALL (1300 60 60 24) or seek medical advice.

Check air quality updates on AirWatch website: www.epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/airwatch


The Environment Protection Authority has fact sheets about smoke and other issues after an emergency, etc.



All DHHS bushfire information (fact sheets etc) are available on one page on Better Health Channel - www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/campaigns/bushfire-emergency-information



Mental health and wellbeing after the bushfires

  • Lifeline: 131 114 24-hour telephone counselling, information and referral service. 


  • BeyondBlue: 1300 224 636 Provides information on depression and anxiety. To access professional counselling services, please make contact with your GP and ask for a referral. 


  • Kids Help Line: 1800 551 800 Confidential telephone counselling service for young people aged 5–25 years. 


  • Headspace: 1800 650 890


  • ParentLine: 132 289 Counselling and information for families with children (up to 18 years) from 8am to midnight, 7 days a week. 


  • Men’s Line Australia: 1300 789 978 24–hour counselling and advice for men.  

  • Safe Steps Family Violence Support: 1800 015 188


  • Family Violence support:  There is an increased risk of family violence after an emergency. Help is available by calling 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732 - confidential) or go to the 1800 Respect website


  • Windermere: 1300 946 337


Community donations


The preferred way for community members to donate to those affected by the fires is by cash donations to the Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund’s Bushfire Appeal. 100% of donated funds go to Gippslanders when they need it most – in the immediate aftermath of an emergency.

Some applications have already been assessed and donations distributed.


Find out how to donate here: www.gerf.org.au


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