Bushfire Update – June 2020

12th June 2020

In response to the growing number of Victorians whose homes and lives were suddenly disrupted by the bushfires earlier in the year, AV launched an emergency fundraiser. The appeal quickly received generous support from donors, raising over $165,000 as of May 2020. The funds were put towards both immediate care and support for those affected, as well as services to help communities rebuild into the future.

Due to the severity of the fires, local communities in the north-east corridor of Victoria lost access to clean drinking water. AV played an integral role in ensuring that that residents had water was distributed to those who needed it most. A number of the schools lost in Gippsland were moved or amalgamated into others. For students who had lost their homes, or were already struggling with school attendance, this was a massive disruption. AV allocated increased funding to the TEACHaR^ program to offer more students dedicated education support as they came to terms with massive change and emotional trauma.

Additionally, AV’s Seasons for Growth ­– an evidence-based change, loss and grief program ­– will be delivered to four schools in East Gippsland. This will allow children and young people to build the knowledge and skills necessary to strengthen their social and emotional wellbeing following significant loss.

Our financial counselling teams continue to support the many families who lost houses and property. One such client is a 45-year-old farmer and volunteer firefighter who manages his farm with his elderly parents. Upon returning from a 16-hour firefighting shift, he found both his and his parent’s houses ablaze. His parents fled the fire under ember attack, and the shed caught alight as they were reversing out. They lost everything. The family were deeply traumatised, and their financial difficulties quickly piled up.

Our financial counsellors jumped into action. They were able to help in many ways, including relief grant applications, insurance claims, negotiations with creditors for outstanding bills, letters of support for passport replacements, referrals to mental health support, and accessing funds for an urgently needed replacement water tank for their livestock. Our financial counselling services were able to give this heroic family the support they needed to hold on through their grief and heartbreak and begin the long journey home.

We’d like to acknowledge and thank all the unforgettably generous donors, staff, partners and volunteers who contributed to the recovery of our Victorian communities. Your efforts have helped so many people, and we’ll be here long into the future as our communities continue to rebuild.

^ Transforming Education Achievement for Children and Young People in Home Based and Residential Care

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