Australia — NEARLY one in five households hit by the Black Saturday blazes are still making do with temporary accommodation almost four years after the bushfires that killed 173 people.
A Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development survey of 1380 bushfire-affected households shows 19 per cent, or 268 households, remain in temporary accommodation, either off-site or in temporary arrangements on their fire-affected property.
Labor Yan Yean MP Danielle Green said people in Kinglake were still living in sheds, caravans and shipping containers.
“It’s tragic,” she told AAP. “The government is not paying attention to what is happening in these communities and is not supporting these communities.”
A spokesman for Bushfire Response Minister Peter Ryan said the government recognised the effects of the Black Saturday fires were ongoing and still being felt by many people.
“The fact 268 Victorians are still living in accommodation arrangements which they consider to be of a temporary nature is an example of this,” he said.
He said the government had extended funding for two full-time officers at the Rebuilding Advisory Service, allowing them to continue supporting those who lost their principal residence in 2009 as they re-house or rebuild.
Almost three quarters of households in temporary accommodation are either in the process of rebuilding or plan to in the future.
There are 74 households living onsite yet to start rebuilding or still undecided about their future housing arrangements, the survey showed.
Some 124 households are in temporary accommodation away from their fire-affected land, with most renting elsewhere or living with family or friends.
In November last year, the government extended its planning exemption for people living in temporary accommodation on their land as a result of the 2009 bushfires.
This amendment gives those living in temporary accommodation until April 30 next year to move into permanent accommodation or seek planning permits for their temporary dwellings.
The Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund is helping about 250 households yet to find permanent accommodation through a program called the Further Housing Assistance Gift.
Under the program, households are eligible for up to $50,000 to finish rebuilding their homes, purchase a new property or find other permanent housing, such as long-term rental accommodation. The failure was in the forest areas.Advertisement
Following a 10-year strategy, ACT fire managers have created a mosaic across the landscape of different fuel levels, burning at every opportunity.
But forests have been too wet to burn this spring and the past two summers.
A network of 500 fire trails and strategic burns along the north-west urban edge, heavy grazing and extra grass slashing will create a fortress for the territory which forecasters say faces a higher than average risk this summer.
After a fire-fuelled tornado in January 2003 killed four Canberrans and frightened thousands more, CSIRO fire expert Phil Cheney told the subsequent inquiry the fire’s penetration into urban areas under extreme conditions did not reflect a failure of fuel management on the urban interface.