REGION - Northern Grampians Shire Council has agreed to lobby both the State and Federal Governments to continue providing financial assistance to ensure the complete recovery of communities impacted by the Grampians and Black Range bushfires.
Council, which has turned its full focus onto bushfire recovery, has agreed to make appropriate applications for National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements and other funding and resource assistance, to support the recovery program of the Northern Grampians Shire and Grampians regional communities.
Shire chief executive officer, Justine Linley, said fires had broken out in all parts of the Northern Grampians Shire in January, due to lightning strikes.
Mrs Linley said the most devastating fire had burnt out of control for several days in the northern Grampians, destroying homes, livestock, fencing and numerous other structures, as well as burning 55,000 hectares of bushland.
As a result, evacuations were called for a number of communities in the region including Halls Gap, Lakes Fyans and Lonsdale, Ledcourt, Pomonal and smaller communities along the eastern edge of the Northern Grampians.
Mrs Linley said smaller, fast running fires also occurred in Marnoo West, Emu/Carapooee (resulting in the loss of a dwelling, outbuildings and fencing) and in Landsborough, while a series of lightning strikes had ignited a fire in the Black Range, south of Stawell, which burnt through public and private land and had Stawell on high alert. Evacuations also took place from properties in the Black Range.
Mrs Linley said since the fires had been contained, council's focus had turned to recovery.
This will aim at ensuring communities are back to normal as quickly as possible, with the focus being on achieving social, economic and financial outcomes.
"It is important to provide appropriate support for residents and community members experiencing dislocation and disruption as a result of the fire events," Mrs Linley said.
"The Recovery Action Plan will be designed to assist individuals and families to recover as quickly as possible from the impacts of this natural disaster."
Mrs Linley said the Recovery Action Plan would also contain measures to encourage visitation back to our tourism areas in the shortest possible timeframe and to assist businesses which may be experiencing financial and other stress as a result of significant downturn or cancellations.