The compounding impacts of drought, fire and flood on rural communities across East Gippsland in recent years have been devastating.

The newly released book, ‘Heartbreak to Hope’, developed by the Gippsland Community Leadership Program (GCLP), documents the experiences and shares survival stories from locals in East Gippsland.

The book features stories of survival and recovery from the 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires, which ravaged 1.4 million hectares in East Gippsland, claiming more than 400 homes in a single Local Government Area.

Developed by GCLP, with support from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Australian Red Cross and the Hugh Williamson Foundation, all proceeds will go to six Bush Nursing Centres in East Gippsland.

The stories from East Gippsland are confronting yet an important piece of history that documents a horror bushfire season.

DELWP recovery manager Jim Noonan said, “Our understanding of how to recover has been challenged following the 2019/20 bushfires and impact of the pandemic”.

“People and communities needed to connect and share their stories of survival, and being unable to do so in a traditional way has had a long-lasting impact on moving forward, so we hope this book will help our communities.”

DELWP Planning Officer and GCLP participant, Lauren Kew, worked on the ‘Heartbreak to Hope’ project, and said the book provides a way to find connection, reflect and learn.

“Heartbreak to Hope was to give people a chance to share their experiences and be heard,” she said.

“The book documents true heartbreak, resilience, hope and the overwhelming sense that as a community, we have more in common.

“Every Gippslander has a fire story, and the Gippsland Community Leadership Program has a huge amount of gratitude to those who bravely shared their stories.”

All profits from the sale of ‘Heartbreak to Hope’ will directly benefit the six Bush Nursing Centres of East Gippsland – at Swifts Creek, Ensay, Buchan, Cann River, Gelantipy and Dargo.

Swifts Creek Nursing Manager Sue Carroll said, “Bush Nursing Centres are not-for-profit community-governed incorporations that rely on community fundraising efforts to deliver essential services in Victoria’s most remote locations”.

“Consecutive natural disasters plus a pandemic means Bush Nurses are under more pressure than ever to provide support to their communities.

“Bush nurses provide early intervention health care for all stages of life, from prenatal to palliative care, accident or trauma stabilisation, home-based nursing and mental health and wellbeing support.”

Head to to secure your copy of this limited-edition publication.