Welcome to our first progress update for 2021 –  we hope it has started positively for you.

With February already here, we’re moving closer to completing our community engagement for Phase 2 of the Inquiry – focusing specifically on the delivery and effectiveness of recovery arrangements provided in response to the 2019–20 fires.

Options to provide a submission, complete a survey or participate in a phone interview remain open until 30 March. In addition, through February and March you’ll now be able to join a meeting or drop in for a cuppa-and-chat with Inspector-General Tony Pearce, in various East Gippsland, Alpine and Towong shire locations.

We’ve also partnered with the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria (YACVic) to provide young people with a voice into the Inquiry.

Inquiry’s progress

It is now more than 12 months since the fires and we are focusing our efforts on listening to individuals and communities to understand whether anything has changed about their recovery.

For example: Have programs and services been effective in helping you with your recovery?

What has gone well and what hasn’t gone as well as you hoped? What opportunities for improvement are there for recovery activities, services and programs in the future?

What we mean by recovery

Recovery from an emergency like a bushfire is different for everyone. Coming to terms with what has happened can take months or years depending on a person’s situation. 

In emergency management, recovery after a bushfire can refer to the services provided to help people rebuild their homes, lives, services and community; and to strengthen their ability to cope with future emergencies.  

Recovery services support emergency-affected persons in the reconstruction of the physical infrastructure and restoration of emotional, social, economic and physical wellbeing. 

IGEM acknowledges that for many, recovery can be a long-term process and that as time goes on, people’s experience of recovery may change.

For example: What impacts both positive and negative has the Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency had on your recovery until now? 

Community meetings

Tony Pearce will be visiting fire-affected communities over February and March. You’re invited to join a local meeting or drop in for a cuppa-and-chat with him to provide your feedback on the delivery and effectiveness of recovery activities 12 months since the fires.

For COVID-19 safety and catering purpose, please register for a meeting by clicking on the location name from the list below to go to the online form, or by calling (03) 8684 7900.

Orbost - Monday 15 February, 6.00pm 

Orbost - Tuesday 16 February, 10.00am - Small business owners/operators

Cabbage Tree Creek - Tuesday 16 February 1.00pm

Mallacoota - Tuesday 16 February, 6.00pm

Genoa - Wednesday 17 February, 10.00am

Wairewa - Wednesday 17 February, 2.30pm

Sarsfield - Monday 22 February, 2.00pm

Tambo Crossing - Wednesday 24 February, 10.30am

Clifton Creek - Thursday 25 February, 5.00pm

Bruthen - Friday 26 February, 10.00am

Walwa - Monday 1 March, 6.00pm

Corryong - Tuesday 2 March, 10.00am

Porepunkah - Tuesday 2 March, 6.00pm

Dinner Plain - Wednesday 3 March, 10.00am

Biggara - Wednesday 10 March, 11.00am

In addition to these meetings we will be convening more in the East Gippsland, Alpine, and Towong shires. These will be progressively added to our website www.igem.vic.gov and promoted through Facebook (@IGEMVictoria) (External link) and Twitter (@IGEM_Vic) (External link) as the locations and venues are confirmed.

Economic recovery for small business

A meeting specifically for small business owners in East Gippsland is being held in Orbost on Tuesday 16 February. Business owners/operators are invited to meet with Tony to provide feedback about the progress and effectiveness of their economic recovery 12 months since the 2019-20 bushfires.

Other ways to provide feedback

Feedback from individuals and organisations can still be provided through to 30 March 2021 by: 

Full details on the Inquiry, its Terms of Reference and opportunities for community participation are available from www.igem.vic.gov.au (External link) or by calling (03) 8684 7900. 

We look forward to visiting your community, meeting with you and listening to your stories and experiences.


Photo: Growing Back East Gippsland community project (External link)

Harry, 11, St Mary's Primary School 

My artwork is a photo taken at Balley Hooley in the Snowy River National Park.

This photo reminds me of the poppy that has become symbolic of remembrance after War. I learned at school that the poppy was one of the first plants to grow on the battlefields and symbolises blood. Here, in the burnt lands the orange poppy gives me hope because it gives colour to the burnt land. The orange poppy reminds me of fire but that nature grows again.

I look forward to the coronavirus being under control so that we can play footy and see my friends more often – hopefully get back to ‘normal’.