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Victorian bushfires 2009 - 5 years on

Five year after bushfires devastated Victoria, Red Cross is still there and has been every step of the way.

7 February 2014 marks the fifth anniversary of the devastating bushfires that affected Victoria in 2009.

This week marks the five year anniversary of the Black Saturday bushfires which devastated Victorian communities and led to one of Australian Red Cross's largest ever relief and recovery programs.

The anniversary is a time of reflection for the thousands of people who lost loved ones, friends and colleagues as well as the Red Cross staff and volunteers who were at the front line of the response and continue to support communities to this day.

"The bushfires caused huge upheaval for many communities in Victoria. For many the anniversary will be a celebration of how far they have come in the years since the disaster occurred. For others the anniversary will be a stressful time, as heightened interest in the event brings back painful memories," said Mr Dent, Red Cross Emergencies State Manager.

There is no set timeline for recovery from a disaster. Some people will have moved on, while others continue to be prone to feelings of anxiety, sadness and frustration as a result of what they have lived through, what they have lost and the challenges of re-establishing their lives.

Red Cross has been with the community every step of the way. Around 1,600 volunteers and staff from around the country responded immediately, supporting people in relief centres across the state, reconnecting friends and family through the Register.Find.Reunite. service. Volunteers provided food and water for people in relief centres as well as fire fighters, police and other emergency services personnel.

Since the catastrophic event, another 400 volunteers have supported Victorian communities in their recovery. Volunteers and staff have been there at community recovery events and visited people in their homes and businesses to offer a listening ear and provide links to relevant local services.

Red Cross' recovery work in Victoria continues. You too can help Red Cross' everyday work to help people prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies. Donate online.

Red Cross Bushfire Recovery team

Some of the work that the Victorian Bushfire Recovery team has been involved in includes:

Personal support outreach
As at December 2011, Red Cross volunteers had visited more than 4,400 households in communities impacted by the bushfires, providing information, emotional support and referrals where needed. We are continuing to work with communities and agencies over the long term, and have shared our recovery learning outcomes with Red Cross teams in Queensland, Western Australia and New Zealand.

Personal support at events
Red Cross volunteers continue to provide personal support at events in bushfire impacted communities such as community meetings and celebrations.

Resource development
Red Cross worked with communities impacted by the 2009 Bushfires to identify a number of resource gaps. To address these gaps, Red Cross has developed a number of resources, including MP3 players and a website supporting young people affected by emergencies, an information resource for parents, and a guide to recovery communications for people and agencies charged with communicating information after an emergency.

Red Cross is supporting people affected by the 2009 bushfires in preparing for future emergencies.

Other work
Red Cross is also involved in other activities supporting communities affected by the 2009 bushfires, including partnering with the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement to facilitate a bushfire bereavement support group, participating in state and local advisory committees and supporting the Strathewen community develop its bushfire memorial.

For more information about what communities affected by the bushfires can expect to be going through at this time, read Dr Rob Gordon's article from February 2012, What to expect in the fourth year.

You can contact the Victorian Recovery team on 03 8327 7805 or email us.

2009 Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund

In February 2009 Australians came together in an unprecedented display of support for people affected by the Victorian bushfires.

The Victorian Bushfire Appeal 2009 raised more than $379 million, which was transferred to a trust account established by the Victorian Government. This, together with interest and other donations paid directly to the Victorian Government, means that more than $389 million has been available to support individuals and communities impacted.

An Independent Advisory Panel oversees the Fund's operation and the allocation of funds. Red Cross CEO Robert Tickner is one member of this panel.

A report outlining how funds raised by the Victorian Bushfire Appeal have been allocated and distributed is available through the DHS Fire Recovery page.

2009 Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission report

The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission Report was presented to the Governor of Victoria on 31 July 2010 and then tabled in the Victorian Parliament. You can visit the Royal Commission website or access the final report.


VBRRA Useful contacts guide

DHS Fire Recovery Unit

2009 Bushfire Royal Commission

Australian Centre for Grief & Bereavement

Kids Helpline

ABC Black Saturday page

A number of affected communities keep up-to-date blogs. If you're looking for location specific information, you can search for the community online. While not all of the communities have sites, some with an online presence include:

  • Flowerdale
  • Kinglake
  • Strathewen
  • Marysville
  • St Andrews
  • Labertouche.


Media inquiries: Vivienne Dullard on 0457 542 113

Photo: Australian Red Cross / Rodney Dekker

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