Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Questions without notice and ministers statements

Ministers statements: bushfire recovery initiatives

Ministers statements: bushfire recovery initiatives

Ms SYMES (Northern Victoria—Leader of the Government, Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (12:06): I would like to use my opportunity in the house today to thank Alice and Greg Albert, two proud Cudgewa residents who this month kindly hosted me and Bushfire Recovery Victoria CEO Mariela Diaz at their property. We were incredibly fortunate to hear the story of their recovery journey from the 2019–20 summer bushfires. Sadly they lost their beloved home of more than 40 years. They also lost a significant number of livestock, and all while Greg helped to protect the community and Alice went about setting up the relief centre. Unfortunately rebuilding and recovery has a long tail, and they are only part way through the rebuilding of their home.

Something that has helped make their life just a little bit easier is their participation in the short-term modular housing program run by Bushfire Recovery Victoria. This provides people who have lost their homes with a modular house on their property to live in while their permanent home gets rebuilt or even if they want to live in it while they make the decision about whether they want to rebuild or not. Either way, it helps them stay connected to their community, continue going to school and work and be surrounded by family and friends. We know this is essential to maintaining a sense of community and indeed helping the recovery process. Approximately 457 houses were damaged or destroyed in the fires, and a total of 72 eligible householders have registered to take up a modular home. I am pleased to say that all homes have now been delivered. Under the scheme recipients pay a hiring fee benchmarked to public housing rates. Importantly hardship arrangements ensure that payments do not exceed 25 per cent of household income.

Modular homes are well appointed with kitchens and bathrooms, which for Alice and Greg has been crucial as it has meant that Alice can continue to bake her famous sponge cake, something I had the pleasure of experiencing firsthand. I want to thank them again for their hospitality. Their journey is a reminder that recovery from the fires takes years, and this was certainly the case for this community, particularly being interrupted by COVID. I want communities and householders affected by the fires to know that as a government we are with them every step of the way on this difficult recovery journey.