Bushfire Recovery and Support Services

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Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement (ACGB)

Bereavement counselling and support service

The ACGB is a mainstream not-for-profit organisation that delivers a range of education, counseling, research and clinical services for those working in, and affected by, grief and bereavement.

In the aftermath of the 2009 fires, the ACGB set up a Bushfire Specialist Bereavement Service funded by the Department of Health, offering referred and direct counselling support to fire-affected people in three affected regions. This service operated until December 2013, and is no longer available.

Any individuals or families impacted by the 2009 Victorian bush fires seeking bereavement counselling support can access services via the usual intake process operating at ACGB.

The ACGB has also developed a suite of resources to assist the recovery of affected individuals and families over the longer term.

> The full list of current resources (downloadable books, DVDs) and information (forums, counselling services) specifically for those affected by the 2009 bushfires

Contact ACGB
General enquiries: 9265 2100


Bushfire Planning Assistance Fund

Grant of up to $1200 for those building a home under BMO

This grant is to assist landowners prepare a planning permit (affected by changes to bushfire planning provisions since 31 July 2014) for a single dwelling (or extension) in a Bushfire Management Overlay area. Eligibility criteria apply. Applications can be received until 31 March 2016.

> Click here for details of eligibility and to download application form

Community On Ground Assistance (COGA)

Property recovery, holistic support

Funded by VBAF and in partnership with CatholicCare, COGA has been operating since 2009 to provide flexible and responsive assistance and support to eligible families and individuals affected by the Black Saturday fires in Victoria.

They can provide help with a variety of property recovery and rebuilding tasks, as well as access/referral to other support services.

COGA has been of assistance to a number of Steels Creek residents. They do operate within strict guidelines set by VBAF as to who they can help and what tasks they can do, so not everyone who needs help is able to receive it from COGA. Also, demand for their services is still high, so in some cases it may take some time before assessment/assistance can be provided. However, you definitely won’t get help if you don’t ask!

To find out more about the services provided, and to discuss your eligibility to receive assistance, please email or phone Sylvie Thomas on 0407 427 090.

Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD)

Bushfire Management Overlay, building and vegetation management in fire-prone areas, other planning and building resources

DPCD is a State Government department that works in partnership with councils and stakeholders to deliver State Government policies and programs. They assess planning scheme amendments and provide planning advice and guidance.

Contact DPCD
Ph 1300 366 356

> Access a variety of information and resources to help with building in a bushfire-prone area


Fire Recovery Unit (FRU)

Individual and community recovery support


The Fire Recovery Unit, part of Regional Development Victoria, was established on 1 July 2011 following the closure of the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority. It has been a key support and point of contact for information on services within the State Government for bushfire-affected communities.
On 31 December 2015, the FRU will close; however, information including services, key contacts and reports relating to the 2009 fires will be retained on the RDV website.

Quick links

> RDV/FRU website for an archive of newsletters and other useful information

Bushfire Recovery Services Guide (PDF) for a full list of still-available services and related information

> Quick Reference Guide to support services (PDF)

> The final FRU newsletter (PDF)


Yarra Ranges Council

Planning and rebuilding, temporary accommodation

In line with the recent extension of time granted to landowners to rebuild following the 2009 fires, Yarra Ranges Council is still operating a ‘fast track’ service that replaces the standard planning permit application with a much simpler ‘planning consent’ application – a one-page form.

This service is available to people who owned their property at the time of the fires and also to those who bought their property since then, as long as it is to replace building/s damaged or destroyed by the fires; the normal application fee is waived for the former, with $102 fee being charged for the latter. Once obtained, this streamlined planning consent gives landowners 2 years to commence construction of replacement dwellings/buildings.

Contact Yarra Ranges Planning Department
Ph 9294 6222

> Download the pdf on legislation regarding rebuilding dwellings, dependent persons units or buildings for agriculture, which were damaged or destroyed in the 2009 fires. Note: the exemption in regard to this legislation has been extended to 30 September 2017.

To support recovery operations following the 2009 fires, legislation was introduced to allow for construction of temporary accommodation and removal of vegetation for recovery purposes, without the need to obtain a permit. A time extension in relation to this legislation has been granted until 30 September 2018.
Downoad the pdf

Victorian Building Commission

Rebuilding information and advice

The Victorian Building Commission has a number of pages dedicated to informing people about various aspects of building in bushfire zones. This includes assessing Bushfire Attack Level (BAL), the new building regulations, reimbursement of building permit fees, bunkers, and more.

Contact VBC

Bushfire Building Advice Line: 1300 360 320

> Website


Quick Links for information on social/recreational support following Black Saturday

Piece Together
Share stories, reconnect with family and friends, make new friends. A website developed primarily to support those affected by the 2009 fires.

Firefoxes – women rising together from Black Saturday, helping to create a ‘new normal’. Visit this website for resources, newsletters, events and more. Learn about this amazing grassroots support network and how you can join in.

Black Saturday and Beyond
EACH’s bushfire recovery website, for opportunities to connect, ask questions, attend events – support yourself and others.