16th March 2020
“You couldn’t sleep. You knew the fire was just down the road” –AV Employee, Gippsland.
With many of our colleagues, carers, and clients of Gippsland and North-East Victoria in the pathway of this year’s bushfires,
AV has been active in delivering immediate support to communities and fundraising for families under pressure. The support from donors and volunteers has been deeply heart-warming and reminds us that hardship can be overcome when we face it together.
Despite the wide-ranging impacts and disruptions of these fires, AV was fortunate not to lose any buildings. Our staff in Gippsland were able to continue providing services to clients and carers, while also broadening this support to their effected colleagues and the wider community.
In our initial emergency response, AV set up a senior coordination team to support the Gippsland team. By the start of January, AV was on the ground re-directing the overflow of Christmas non-perishable foods to Bairnsdale. These supplies were allocated to members of the community who had been displaced which was warmly appreciated.
The generosity of supporters new and long-standing was overwhelming with thousands of dollars raised in just 2 weeks. The funds raised will be used to provide unfunded services and support the community’s longer term efforts in recovery, with a focus on supporting children, young people and families in their recovery, as well as helping to rebuild capacity and resilience in devastated communities.
We are working closely with Bushfire Recovery Victoria, Government Departments and key stakeholders locally about utilising funds in grief support and responsive education programs for children and young people and their families who have been disrupted in their living situation and schooling. These programs help participants, young and old, to explore and respond to the impact of change, grief, and loss in everyday life.
Discussions with government have led to assessment, planning and long-term funding for appropriate assistance to our recovering communities. As part of a $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund, the Federal and State Government have announced funding for additional financial counselling services. This will allow AV to expand our services to meet increased demand for those affected by Bushfires. With extra staff and resources, AV can now deliver financial assistance for Victorians who have lost their homes or livelihoods.
AV’s Gippsland Community Legal Service has also been actively collaborating with legal services across the state to coordinate support community members with legal matters as a result of the Bushfires. Across Victoria, over two hundred legal volunteers will contribute their time to bushfire-affected families.
AV is dedicated in supporting our bushfire communities recover during this time of hardship. We would like to thank all donors, volunteers and supporters who have contributed to the cause.