Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Winter Warming Grant for Bushfire Survivors

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon John Brumby MP, Victorian Premier

Thousands of bushfire survivors will receive a one-off $2000 cash payment from the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund as part of a $9 million new winter needs grant to support communities through the colder months.

Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund chair John Landy, Premier John Brumby and Commonwealth Parliamentary Secretary for Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction Bill Shorten announced that a new $2000 Winter Needs Grant would be automatically paid to individuals who had received payments for destroyed or damaged homes.

“The Winter Needs Grant will assist families and individuals whose homes were lost or damaged to purchase the essentials to ensure they are comfortable through winter,” Mr Landy said.

“This grant will go towards essentials for our bushfire survivors this winter, from heaters, blankets and new winter clothing, to covering the cost of gas and electricity bills, having insulation installed or buying-up materials to make home improvements on temporary housing.

“While most survivors are living with family or friends some are people are living in temporary accommodation such as caravans, either on their own properties or the properties of friends. We expect that about up to 4000 will benefit from this grant.”

The $2000 cash grants will begin to appear in the bank accounts of bushfire-affected individuals and families who have previously applied for or received Rebuilding and Recovery grants from the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund, and householders who received National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.

Anyone impacted by the bushfires that has not applied for or received a Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund grant or that believes that they may be eligible for the $2000 grant or any of the other assistance measures available through the appeal fund should contact 1800 180 213.

Bushfire-affected communities will also share in $1 million from the Bushfire Appeal Fund, to support local community winter events.

“The $500,000 community events program will help communities rebuild by coming together to do the things that they want to do in warm and safe environments. Where such spaces don’t exist, another $500,000 will be used to ensure this accommodation is provided,” Mr Landy said.

“The community grants can be used for anything from film or roast nights to concerts or dances. The events will bring survivors together, they will help people get through a cold winter and help to begin repairing the emotional scars left by the fires.”

Each of the bushfire affected communities will receive between $5,000 and $25,000 to run events this winter. Those communities without suitable accommodation to hold events will be provided with temporary facilities, through the additional $500,000 pool of money.

Mr Brumby said the Bushfire Appeal Fund’s winter initiatives would go a long way to helping individuals and families through the coming colder months.

“Victorians and people from across Australia and the world have donated generously through Red Cross to the Bushfire Appeal Fund and once again I congratulate Mr Landy and his panel for deciding on assistance that reflects the generosity and compassion in which these funds were donated,” Mr Brumby said.

“We will continue to stand by bushfire devastated communities and now, as we enter winter, we need a concerted effort to support survivors. This grant will mean extra money in people’s pockets and is the kind of practical support our communities need this winter.”

Mr Shorten said the Commonwealth Government would continue to support bushfire communities as they recovered and rebuilt.

“We recognise that our bushfire-affected communities are experiencing a new set of challenges as the colder weather approaches,” Mr Shorten said.

“The grant announced by the Bushfire Appeal Fund today, together with the first phase of winter assistance, will go a long way towards helping people get back on their feet and move forward to recover and rebuild.”

VBRRA will oversee the community grants program in close consultation with existing Community Development Committees.