Victorian Bushfire update

In Victoria, there has been a strong focus on engaging with local communities to understand their recovery needs. This included a team of members travelling to Mallacoota and Corryong in Victoria’s north on a weekly basis as soon as the roads opened up, which was some six weeks after the bushfires ended. 

To date we have assisted more than 500 individuals and families In Mallacoota, Corryong and Gippsland. 

Currently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, travel to the bushfire-affected areas has not been not possible so we have transferred back to a phone and online system to continue to assist and support local people. 

Early on we identified that education was an area that needed greater focus and, thanks to a generous donation from the Victorian Jewish community, we have been able to bushfire-affected support students from kindergarten through to tertiary with their ongoing education. 

One example was the engagement of a Trauma Recovery Practitioner at a Mallacoota school for 12 months. The counsellor now works with students who have been impacted by the trauma of the bushfires. Two further education projects are also about to the launched.

In northern Victoria and across Gippsland our volunteers have been active across their community, responding to calls for assistance and providing food hampers, bills, education costs and more. 

As of 30 June 2020, the Society had provided assistance to the communities of Mallacoota, Buchan Valley and Northern Victoria.

1,800 Number of calls received
536 Number of households assisted
35 Number of volunteers assisting with calls received
$2.4 million Assistance provided for bushfire recovery
*Approximately $1.5 million of the bushfire recovery funding was delivered during the pandemic.

The Society remains committed to ensuring all funds raised will be provided to long-term recovery needs. No administrative fees are held by the Society and every dollar goes towards assisting people in crisis. 


As schoolchildren across Victoria continue with their second round of home-schooling during the Covid pandemic, the disconnection from their friends is especially challenging for students at Mallacoota’s P-12 College. 

The community is still in the early days of recovery after the devastating bushfires and the social isolation associated with the crisis is a tough additional challenge.

For some time, Vinnies has been in talks with Mallacoota P-12 College Principal Tim Cashmore about how we could help with the emotional and psychological recovery of children after the fires. He suggested that providing a dedicated social worker for a year would be an invaluable resource. 

So, with the support from the Melbourne Jewish Community’s Education Fund, Vinnies is so pleased that dedicated social worker Tegan Moore has now been appointed.

Tim says: “Tegan started in the middle of June so it was a good chance to build relationships with our children and their families before the end of term. She will be working on a number of levels and doing triage, if it’s required, for kids who are in immediate need, but she will also work with our staff to explore further programs for mental health support throughout the school.

“Tegan will also collaborate with our stakeholders in town, such as the Mallacoota District Health Service.

“We are really excited by the prospect of having Tegan here for 12 months. She is going to be a big help to the children’s recovery.”


Swan Hill craftsman David arrived at the Vinnies Bairnsdale Assistance Centre with a donation of three handcrafted rocking horses which were welcomed with open arms by Bairnsdale volunteers Cath and Jo.

“It’s been a very difficult year for the people of Bairnsdale,” said Cath. “We knew of at least three families with young children who had lost everything during this year’s bushfires and we wanted to lift their spirits somehow.”

Cath, Jo and their fellow volunteers have been working closely with families during the East Gippsland bushfires and have been alongside them ever since, providing clothes, food, food vouchers, furniture and assistance with bills and education. Anything and everything to help get their lives back on track.

Along with the rocking horses, Cath was delighted to present the families with Meyer and RACO Australia, Anaconda Stores clothing, and makeup packs worth more than $100 — all graciously donated. Thank you to everyone for your support.