Posted on 14. May, 2010 in News

The Premier John Brumby has thanked government, businesses and Australian expatriates in the United Arab Emirates who raised much-needed funds after the 2009 February bushfires.

At a reception in Dubai Thursday, Mr Brumby was joined by almost 30 Australian expatriates, representatives from Emirate Airlines and other businesses, and thanked them for the generosity they showed Victorian communities in the aftermath of Australia’s worst natural disaster.

“Victorians were overwhelmed by the generosity of Victorians, Australians and people from across the world who gave so much after the tragic Black Saturday bushfires,” Mr Brumby said.

“I thank the expatriate community, business and government here in the United Arab Emirates for their incredible work after the fires in raising much-needed funds to assist those affected – their money is going directly to the survivors of the fires and helping them to rebuild their lives. 

“In the immediate aftermath it went to providing communities with practical assistance such as helping the injured to pay for the treatment they needed, providing families with warm clothes and blankets to get through the winter and financial support to people who lost loved ones.

“These funds have also gone towards providing counselling, support to small businesses, to helping our primary producers repair their properties, with trades people also receiving assistance to replace their destroyed tools and many people have received help to rebuild destroyed or damaged homes.

“Today I acknowledge the United Arab Emirates Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for the $2.5 million he provided – $1 million of this went to the Victorian Racing Industry fund for volunteers who helped fight the fires and $1.5 million to assist communities around his breeding operation near Seymour.

“And I also want to thank Emirate Airlines for providing over 100 international tickets and onboard products worth over $500,000 for immediate family members of those who died or were severely injured – I know this generosity was of great assistance to many.”  

Of the $390 million raised by the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund, $374 million has been allocated to a range of practical, psychocological and community-based support.

Mr Brumby said recovery progress since the Black Saturday and Gippsland fires included:

  • Over 1800 building permits have been issued for people to rebuild their damaged or destroyed properties, businesses and sheds;
  • Over 6500 kilometres of fencing has been replaced;
  • Over 400 kilometres of road restored; and
  • Over 3000 properties cleared, with the clean up, led by Grocon in partnership with the Victorian Government recognised as world’s best-practice for a disaster of this kind.

Mr Brumby said the Australian and Victorian governments had put in place a $193 million Rebuilding Together plan to drive the recovery of towns and communities across Victoria.

The $193 million Rebuilding Together plan delivered:

  • $93.4 million to support people and communities rebuild through ongoing accommodation support, counselling services and rebuilding key community assets including upgrading more than 20 community halls, building new community centres and restoring sports and recreation facilities, parks, gardens, walking and cycling trails;
  • $60.5 million to drive reconstruction including new co-located, multipurpose facilities that will improve education and recreation services in Kinglake, Flowerdale, Callignee and Marysville as well as a new primary school in Strathewen and Marysville Police Station. The first stage of the Marysville community centre opened on 12 April, which brings together the primary school and early childhood services – including kindergarten, maternal and child health, occasional care and playgrounds – under one roof;
  • $21.6 million to help stimulate economic recovery with support to assist small business to return to pre-fire operating levels, new tourism marketing campaigns, new National and State Park facilities to attract visitors and the restoration of the iconic Lake Mountain Alpine Resort as a major summer and winter tourism destination; and
  • $17.5 million to rehabilitate the environment and address environmental problems caused by the fires including urgent action to protect threatened species and habitats, to regenerate State forests, helping farmers and landholders restore their land and repairing critical waterways and catchments.

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