After a false start to face-to-face meetings due to February’s five-day COVID lockdown, we were finally able to get out and about over four weeks, visiting fire-affected communities in East Gippsland and the North East.
Our meetings took us to Walwa in the North East, up to Falls Creek in the Alps, across to Mallacoota in East Gippsland, and many communities in between. We covered more than 5,000 kilometres to listen to communities share their experiences of recovery from the 2019–20 Victorian fires.
Over this time, we held a total of 36 face-to-face meetings involving individuals, members of Community Recovery Committees, and staff from organisations working in recovery.
Our sincere thanks to the community members, council staff and Bushfire Recovery Victoria hub coordinators who helped with these meetings – from organising venues and catering, through to spreading the word. We really appreciated your enthusiasm and willingness to see these meetings happen in your community.
What you shared with us
We’re very grateful to everyone who participated in these meetings particularly for your honesty and openness. For many people recounting their story and experiences from the fires was still very raw and emotional. We were humbled by your willingness to talk about what had and hadn’t worked in recovery, even though it was a difficult conversation.
Frequently shared themes or topics include:
- The level of involvement communities are having in their own recovery and capacity to make and influence important recovery decisions
- The complexity and fairness of funding eligibility requirements, application processes and decisions for both community and individual funding
- The value of the case support program and the assistance this has provided to individuals in navigating their recovery
- The resilience and strength of community as they have come together to support each other in recovery
- The importance of being better prepared for future emergencies and having appropriate support from relevant agencies and organisations to make this happen
- The timeliness and complexity of planning and re-building and the impact this has on recovery
- The workload and expectation that has been placed on Community Recovery Committees whose voluntary members are supporting their communities and trying to recover
- How recovery progress affects the health and wellbeing of individuals and community
Your experiences will enable us to consider what improvements may be required for better outcomes after future events.
Other ways to provide feedback to the Inquiry
Until Tuesday 30 March 2021, individuals and organisations can provide feedback by:
- completing an online submission or survey found at www.igem.vic.gov.au
- emailing a submission to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- mailing a submission to: Inspector-General for Emergency Management GPO Box 4356 Melbourne VIC 3000.
Full details on the Inquiry, its Terms of Reference and community participation are available from www.igem.vic.gov.au or by calling (03) 8684 7900.