On Christmas Day, on what should have been a day of joy, family and celebration, residents of Wye River and Separation Creek were instead faced with fear and danger as fire tore through their communities.
As a result of the fire, 118 homes were lost — 98 in Wye River and 18 in Separation Creek. Over 2500 hectares were burnt in an area that was tinder dry, on a day of severe fire danger.
My thoughts and best wishes remain with the families who lost their homes. I wish to give my sincere thanks to all of the emergency services personnel from the CFA, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Victoria Police and other agencies.
As they do so often, they spent time away from their families to protect others, putting their own lives at risk. It is testament to their professionalism and dedication, as well as the foresight of local residents in activating their fire plans and complying with emergency personnel, that fortunately no lives were lost.
I also acknowledge the amazing work done by the Colac Otway shire and the Surf Coast shire. The Andrews government will do everything possible to assist those who have lost their homes in these fires.
Grants of up to $1300 per family are available to cover emergency food and personal effects, as well as grants of up $32 500 for families who have lost their primary place of residence.
In addition, we have created a $2.75 million assistance package, which includes a $1 million Economic and Community Recovery Fund. We will continue to work with local stakeholders and communities to ensure the Great Ocean Road continues to be one of Victoria’s biggest tourism drawcards.