Fire affected families receiving ‘amazing’ support

The Lancefield-Cobaw fire. Photo: Penny Stephens/The Age

As many as 10 families whose houses were destroyed or damaged during last October’s bushfire near Lancefield are receiving weekly visits from a case worker, as recovery efforts continue.

Spearheaded by Macedon Ranges council and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), efforts to help the community bounce back from the devastating blaze include offers of counselling, which have been taken up by more than 25 people.

Lancefield Neighbourhood House co-ordinator and recovery committee member Vivien Philpotts said, while a few people may still be feeling frustrated, ‘‘the reality is the support has generally been amazing’’.

‘‘There’s been incredible support, both from the council and state government,’’ she said.

Ms Philpotts said the swift reaction of the state government and DELWP had been important, especially in light of the cause of the blaze.

In November, an inquiry found the 266-hectare planned burn that ignited on September 30 had been “inadequately resourced” from the start. It broke containment lines on October 3 and again on October 6.

Almost 3000 hectares were eventually engulfed. Four houses, 25 sheds and many kilometres of fencing were destroyed.

A progress report last month found that one recommendation and three commitments from the inquiry had already been delivered, with the rest on track, most of which have a due date of July this year.

A council spokeswoman said planning and building processes had been streamlined for affected landholders. Asbestos clean-ups have happened at 11 properties and 86 of 130kilometres of fencing has been replaced, while almost three million litres of water has replenished storages for 61 landholders.

Ms Philpotts said anyone concerned about mental health should contact a recovery officer immediately.

‘‘For some people, the long term effects – the emotional stuff – hasn’t hit home until more recently.

‘‘People shouldn’t underestimate how they’re feeling. They may be crying or getting angry more than they used to, but help is available.’’

Details: 5422 0217