Emergency services praised

GIPPSLAND MHR Darren Chester has praised the efforts of emergency services in Gippsland as fires continue to burn across the region.

Mr Chester said the quick response in the wake of a number of blazes which stretch from the Latrobe Valley to far east Gippsland had been nothing short of extraordinary.

Mr Chester toured fire-affected areas and visited incident control centres in Orbost, Bairnsdale, Traralgon and Yarram.

“Without the tremendous efforts of our emergency services workers and volunteers, the impact on property and livestock could have been far more devastating,” Mr Chester said.

“Our firefighters have been ably assisted by colleagues from interstate as well as from New Zealand.

“Local residents have also been quick to implement their bushfire plans to protect their families and homes as well as making informed decisions as to whether to stay or go.”

Mr Chester said the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements had been activated for bushfire affected communities in the region.

“Financial assistance is available to help individuals and families to deal with emergency food, clothing and accommodation; the removal of debris; repairs and replacement of essential household contents; and personal and financial counselling.

“The Australian government is also providing additional assistance for councils to conduct counter disaster operations; clean-up activities; and to restore or rebuild essential public assets damaged by the fires.”

Under Victoria’s Personal Hardship Assistance Program, the following financial assistance is available to eligible households:

Emergency relief assistance, which provides payments of up to $500 per adult and $250 per child, up to a maximum of $1250 per household to cover emergency accommodation, food, clothing, or personal items, and personal and financial counselling;

Emergency re-establishment assistance, which provides up to $31,050 per household for clean-up, emergency accommodation, repairs, rebuilding and replacing some damaged contents.

People experiencing personal hardship or distress should phone the Victorian Emergency Recovery Information Line on 1300 799 232 or www.recovery.vic.gov.au