The Andrews Labor Government will establish a Bushfire Response and Recovery Taskforce to support communities and help them rebuild from the devastating fires still burning in the east of the state.
Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Emergency Services Lisa Neville announced the Taskforce, which will be chaired by Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp and include senior officials from all key government departments and agencies.
More than 300 fires have burnt through the north east and east of Victoria over the past 24-48 hours, with hundreds fleeing to relief centres and community assembly points in Bairnsdale, Lakes Entrance, Orbost, Mallacoota and Eden.
Dealing with the immediate aftermath of the fires while many fires continue to burn across the region and the state is a significant challenge that involves all levels of government.
The Taskforce will report directly to Government and oversee the immediate response – getting basic amenities such as food and water, as well as other resources, to fire-affected communities as fast as possible.
It will advise agencies on the needs and priorities of people on the ground, working closely with the Commonwealth and local councils to ensure people affected – including tourists who did not expect the threat of bushfires on their summer holiday – get the support they need, when they need it.
The Taskforce will also co-ordinate the ongoing, long-term recovery effort – cutting through red-tape to ensure a single, dedicated group is focused on the changing needs of fire-affected communities as they rebuild.
It will also focus on the ongoing economic recovery of these communities – particularly East Gippsland, which has already been dealing with the harsh effect of drought.