During the current bushfire situation, it is essential to stay alert and keep informed.
Last updated: 22/1/2020
There are currently a number of bushfires in the area, which are not yet contained. It is essential that residents and visitors ensure that they are informed and prepared.
This information will be updated regularly.
Federal Government Disaster Recovery Assistance
Alpine Shire residents are now eligible to receive Federal Government Disaster Recovery Assistance. A Disaster Recovery Allowance is available for people who can show they have lost income as a direct result of the bushfires. You may be eligible for up to 13 weeks financial support.
Council has advocated strongly for this funding to be made available to our communities. More information, including how to apply, is available on the Department of Human Service website.
Department of Health and Human Services Personal Hardship Assistance Program
The Personal Hardship Assistance Program is available for residents in fire affected areas in the Alpine Shire who are experiencing financial hardship in meeting their immediate and essential needs.
Residents are encouraged to call the Personal Hardship Assistance Program hotline on 1800 961 054 (9am – 5pm, 7 days a week). By calling this number arrangements can be made for a DHHS representative to discuss your needs and undertake a personal hardship assessment.
There is currently various forms of financial assistance being made available. You can find out more by clicking here. People who lost their homes in a bushfire may be eligible for an emergency grant of $5000. Visit redcross.org.au/grants and register your contact details.
Information will be provided here once Council receives notification of grants and assistance available.
- The Australian Banking Association is encouraging individuals and businesses suffering from financial hardship due to bushfires to contact their banking institution to receive assistance in the form of deferred loan payments, waived fees and bank charges, assistance with debt and more. For more information, call your bank today or find your bank’s hardship team by clicking here
If you are finding it hard to make ends meet and need assistance the following organisations are available to you:
- Salvation Army: 1300 662 217
A number of agencies are producing newsletters in the wake of the fires.
Some relevant current publications can be found below:
- Community newsletter - Ovens Incident Centre 21 January 2020
- VicEmergency Important Information for Communities information sheet
- Floods, storms and landslides after bushfire information sheet
- Community newsletter - Ovens Incident Centre 19 January 2020 (Including Public Information Map)
- Community newsletter - Ovens Incident Centre 18 January 2020
- Community newsletter - Ovens Incident Centre 17 January 2020
- Community newsletter - Ovens Incident Centre 16 January 2020
- Community newsletter - Upper Murray 15 January 2020
- Community newsletter - Ovens Incident Centre 11 January 2020
- Community newsletter - Ovens Incident Centre, 8 January 2020
Community meetings were held in Bright and Myrtleford on Friday, 17 January.
All community meetings are live streamed, and can be viewed at any time on Council's Facebook page.
The Relief Centre at the Myrtleford Senior Citizens Centre is closed.
Staff from the Salvation Army, Centrelink and Department of Health and Human Services will at the Mount Beauty Library on Tuesday, 21 January from 10am.
The Salvation Army will be available from 10am – 12pm to provide assistance to anyone who is having trouble making ends meet.
DHHS and Centrelink staff will be available from 10am onwards, depending on demand, to assist community members with disaster relief funding.
For more information, please contact 1800 961 054 (9am–5pm, 7 days a week).
Visit VicRoads for all up-to-date road closures. Emergencies can quickly result in the closure of roads - before you travel, ensure your route is clear.
Use multiple sources to stay informed
- VicEmergency Hotline - freecall 1800 226 226
- VicEmergency app
- Facebook or Twitter (#vicfires)
- Tune in to ABC Local Radio, commercial and designated community radio stations, or Sky News TV.
- A full list of Official Emergency Broadcasters is available online at VicEmergency
The designated Neighbourhood Safer Places in the Alpine Shire are listed online HERE.
Residents must be aware that Neighbourhood Safer Places are purely places of last resort to provide shelter during the passage of a fire when all other personal survival plans have failed.
Neighbourhood Safer Places should not be considered as places to relocate to when leaving early. Safety and survival cannot be guaranteed at these sites as support services will not be provided and these locations will offer minimum protection against radiant heat and embers.
A new Bushfire Counselling Line has been set up for affected areas in the North East. The line will be manned by experienced clinicians Monday -Friday from 9am to 6pm. These clinicians will provide direct advice, consultation and referral as required to local services.
Where to go and who can help?
Please call the Bushfire Counselling Phone Line on 1300 514 811 between 9am-6pm Mon-Fri to access free counselling services and advice on options.
For urgent assistance, speak to your GP, local health professional or call Lifeline on 13 11 14
For Mental Health Crisis: 1300 881 104
For onl ine or phone and aapp support
After a bushfire, sometimes people are unsure of what to do next. The Department of Health and Humans Services Bushfire case support program provides practical support for people who have been affected by the Victorian bushfires.
Case Support Coordinators can help you with:
- Discussing your needs and the next steps you could take
- Information and support to access services
- Completing paperwork
- Community information
- Financial counselling and assistance with insurance
- Advice for business owners
- A small amount of financial support to help with immediate needs
Support can be provided face to face, over the phone or at a location that suits you.
Who is it for?
People from bushfire impacted areas in East Gippsland and North East Victoria.
How much does this program cost?
This is a free service.
How can I access this program?
To access this program or find out more:
Call: 1800 560 760 - 8am – 6pm weekdays and 9am – 5pm on weekends
The Bushfire case support program is funded by the Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements and the Victorian Government.
Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry assistance
The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (the Victorian Chamber) and the Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) have established a 12-month, $500,000 support package to assist businesses affected by the Victorian bushfires.
All services under this support package will be provided at no cost to any business in a Victorian natural disaster declared area, including:
• Mental health support with access to a confidential counselling service
• Access to our local training and business mentoring, with a focus on health, safety and wellbeing courses and business restoration
• Access to our Workplace Relations Advice Line
• Membership fee waiver for Victorian Chamber and VTIC members for the next 12 months.
More information is available on the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry website.
The care of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife must be referred to an authorised wildlife shelter or foster carer, wildlife rehabilitation organisation or veterinarian.
The Help for Injured Wildlife tool will help you locate and contact the closest relevant wildlife carers and rescue and rehabilitation organisations to help the injured wildlife.
Other handy information is available at https://www.wildlife.vic.gov.au/sick-injured-or-orphaned-wildlife/sick-injured-or-orphaned-wildlife
Myrtleford and region, go to https://www.alpineshire.vic.gov.au/community/directory/myrtleford-and-region-wildlife-shelter
Register.Find.Reunite is a service that registers, finds and reunites family, friends and loved ones after an emergency. If you choose to leave, please register online, or at a relief centre.
Use Register to let people know you are safe. Use Find to look for people you know may be affected by an emergency. Reunite is a matching process that can connect family, friends and loved ones.
About the program
On Thursday 9 January, Minister for Water, Lisa Neville announced that emergency water relief would be made available to eligible permanent residents within the declared bushfire affected areas of East Gippsland and North East Victoria.
We were called upon to coordinate the program by taking calls through a dedicated hotline and liaising with water carters in the affected areas to provide emergency water relief.
Permanent residents within the designated areas who are not on reticulated water are eligible. At this stage, the initial areas eligible for emergency water relief assistance (as outlined by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning) are:
• Majority of East Gippsland Shire and Towong Shire
• Some communities in Alpine Shire, Rural City of Wangaratta and Wellington Shire.
Schools and health facilities, not on reticulated water, located in these areas are also eligible.
What they’ll receive?
We’re providing eligible residents with a tank water flush and top-up of 5,000 litres of drinking water. The program doesn’t include a tank clean.
How residents can get in touch?
Affected residents can contact us on 13 18 51 and press 9. This is a 24/7 hotline.
How you can help?
Given that there’s been numerous bushfires across the State, many residents on tank water may have noticed their tank water supply has been affected in some way. We’ve already received a number of enquiries from residents outside the boundary so it’s possible that your organisation has already received similar enquiries.
We would be most grateful if you could help us by passing on this information to your employees in case they receive enquiries from residents who may be affected.
Need more information?
Bright currently has EPA equipment in town monitoring air quality which can be seen here
For other townships of the Shire https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/monitoring-your-environment/about-epa-airwatch
Water from rivers and creeks impacted by fire is likely to contain pathogens and chemicals. For example, firefighting activities will lead to run-off of chemicals from surrounding land; animals will seek protection near water and will contaminate the water when defecating, or worse, dying and decomposing.
As a consequence, you should immediately stop using that water for drinking, washing (including brushing teeth), preparing food and for any primary contact recreation.
Advice on using masks
Not everyone should use a mask to avoid smoke. You can find out more by clicking here
Victorians who have had their homes, shops and sheds destroyed in this season’s bushfires can have their properties cleaned up at no cost, so communities can start rebuilding as soon as possible.
The Victoria and Commonwealth Governments will jointly provide up to $75 million for the program to demolish, remove and safely dispose of all buildings destroyed or damaged beyond repair.
Insured and uninsured property owners won’t be required to contribute to the cost of the program.
In addition, the Insurance Council of Australia has assured the Victorian Government that all savings insurers accrue from the Government-funded clean-up will be passed on directly to policy holders so they can use those funds to help rebuild their lives.
Grocon, which undertook the 2015 Wye River bushfire clean-up, has been selected to undertake the 2020 clean-up program and will be available on the ground as soon as Victorians register.
Grocon will prioritise local contractors to destroy, remove and dispose of all buildings destroyed or damaged beyond repair by bushfire, including residential, commercial and public buildings, and out-buildings such as sheds.
The removal of fencing, trees and vehicles may also be included where it is necessary for the safe clean-up of buildings.
Property owners are encouraged to register for the 2020 Clean-Up Program at https://www.vic.gov.au/bushfire-recovery-victoria or by phoning 1800 560 760.
Call Disaster Legal Help Victoria on 1800 113 432 for free information about your legal issues and options for ongoing assistance. The Get help section contains legal information covering the most common areas of legal concern to those affected by disasters.
Legal problems can surface quickly during and after a bushfire. Disaster Legal Help is available to help Victorians affected by the recent bushfire with issues including:
- Dealing with insurance claims
- Replacing lost or destroyed documents, including wills and titles
- Tenancy issues, such as disputes with landlords and outstanding rent
- Debt and other financial problems resulting from loss of employment and the cost of dealing with the aftermath of a disaster.
There are a number of fact sheets which may help you. They are available in various languages.
- Guidelines for use of face masks(DOCX, 515 KB)
- After a fire: private drinking water and water tank safety(PDF, 117 KB)
- After a fire: private drinking water and water tank safety(DOCX, 385 KB)
- After a fire: returning home safely(PDF, 85 KB)
- After a fire: returning home safely(DOCX, 388 KB)
- After a fire: using your personal protective kit(PDF, 341 KB)
- After a fire: using your personal protective kit(DOCX, 3 MB)
- Donating food to emergency services(PDF, 49 KB)
- Power outages: food safety after a power failure(PDF, 83 KB)
- Power outages: food safety after a power failure(DOCX, 388 KB)
- Power outages: using alternative fuel and electricity generation safely(PDF, 89 KB)
- Power outages: using alternative fuel and electricity generation safely(DOCX, 390 KB)
- Incident air monitoring (publication 1726)
- After a fire: asbestos hazards (publication 1719.1)
- After a fire: cleaning up a smoke-affected home (publication 1711)
- Disposal of bushfire waste (including perished stock) (publication 1738)
- Fact sheet: ash (publication 1724)
- Ash and water tanks (publication 1725)
- Ash from copper chrome arsenate (CCA) treated timber (publication 1720)
- Fire retardants and health (publication 1721)
- Firewater run-off (publication 1722)
- Industrial fires (publication 1723)
For help with English, call the Translating and Interpreting Service on free call 131 450.
Ag Vic Website:
Department of Health and Human Services
The following services can help you, or someone you know, access information during an emergency.
To access information in other languages call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450 (freecall) and ask them to call VicEmergency Hotline.
If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech/communication impairment contact National Relay Service on 1800 555 677 and ask them to call the VicEmergency Hotline.