Australia — YARRA Ranges Council has urged the State Government to extend a program allowing Black Saturday survivors to erect temporary accommodation on their properties while they rebuild.
The call came after a government deadline for bushfire survivors wanting to live in a temporary dwelling expired last month.
Yarra Ranges Council community relations manager James Martin said the council supported a 12-month extension to the program because there were still many survivors rebuilding.
He said it was important for survivors to be able to live in their own communities and the council would not require people to vacate their properties despite the permits lapsing.
Department of Human Services data shows there are 12 property owners with temporary accommodation permits in Steels Creek, 10 in Chum Creek, five in Yarra Glen and Dixons Creek and one in Healesville.
Steels Creek residents Amanda and Edd Williams lost their home and business, Brockspur Eco-Farm, to the fires and are living in a privately-donated school demountable on their property.
Mrs Williams said they were taking longer to rebuild so they could construct a safer new home. Their plans included relocating the house to a central paddock with dams to the north and building an earth-bound house on a hill.
She said the permits would need to run for at least two more years as people dealt with issues such as obtaining insurance payouts and securing builders.
Under bushfire recovery rules – added to the State Planning Scheme after Black Saturday to support recovery operations – affected residents can build temporary homes without a planning permit. The timeline demanded that construction of temporary homes be completed by March 31 and temporary homes revert to non-habitable buildings from March 31, 2011. State Government spokesman Chris Owner said an extension was being considered and bushfire-affected councils would be consulted.