The Federal Government has paid more than $20 million to individuals, families, primary producers and small businesses in East Gippsland recovering from the summer bushfires, which cost the economy an estimated $125 million.
Assistance provided to people in East Gippsland includes the Disaster Recovery Allowance given to 272 recipients and the Disaster Recovery Payment distributed to 3054 people. As of early June, individuals and families had received almost $5 million in recovery support.
More than $8 million has been paid in grants to 122 primary producers and 617 local enterprises have received $10,000 grants, totalling $6.17 million. Thirty-eight small businesses have received support grants of up to $50,000, which have a combined value of almost $1 million.
Local MP Darren Chester has again encouraged people impacted by the fires who were yet to reach out for assistance to do so.
“I don’t want anyone to hesitate in coming forward because they believe there are others who are worse off. The bushfire recovery effort is continuing and there’s still a long way to go before our region gets back on its feet,” Mr Chester said.
“We haven’t forgotten there are businesses that lost many thousands of dollars because the roads were closed and tourists were sent away,” Mr Chester said. “Nor have we forgotten those who lost their homes and whose lives have been turned upside down.
“The financial losses have been enormous and the Federal Government will continue to help individuals, couples and families, farmers and businesses pull through to enjoy better days ahead.”
According to figures from the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, 63 percent or almost 10,000 square kilometres of bushland and forest in East Gippsland was burned. More than 20 percent – 902 square kilometres – of land used for primary production was also impacted.
As of the start of June, damage to East Gippsland’s economy stood at $125 million. Mr Chester urged Gippslanders to do what they could to help the region’s recovery.
“Our efforts to encourage people back to East Gippsland after the fires suffered a big setback due to the coronavirus travel restrictions,” Mr Chester said. “We can now get out and about and take trips away.
“I want to encourage all Gippslanders to do what they can to support our business and tourism sector. Putting locals first and supporting local businesses and service providers creates local jobs.
“Please choose to take a break in Gippsland: it will help to repair some of the economic damage caused by the fires and the pandemic.”
The Federal Government has also funded other payments and services for bushfire survivors and businesses, including emergency relief payments, mental health support and financial counselling.
Charities, other levels of government, the business sector and community organisations have also provided significant sums of money and practical assistance to people impacted by the fires.