Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Village is taken over

VBRRA has now appointed the operational arm of the Uniting Church to run the operation of the Village. This will involve a full time site supervisor being on site.

Reflecting on the work that went on to make the Village a reality it was a pretty amazing achievement. People from across the community banded together to put the plans together and brought in external expertise from their networks. The project was led by the Community Committee and strongly supported by people within the community including Ken Mival, Rob Dumsday, Ric Stubbings the Shire, particularly Matt Parsons, as well as many others.

External help came from a broad range of supporters including Fortescue Mining, Leighton Holdings, Hales Institute, CFMEU, Telstra, Microsoft, Aggreko, Baulderstone, SPAusnet, Wild Terrain Designs and Toll Holdings. (I will have left some out as there were so many so if i have let me know in the comments and I will add them).

A shaky video that I took in 28th February with a very bare recreation reserve

The Portland House Foundation helped kickstart things when they drove into the rec reserve with four caravans two weeks after the fires. These were used to provide immediate shelter to displaced residents. They also provided another four to people living on their blocks in the area.

Caravans provided by Portland House Foundation and others on the Rec in February

Volunteers from the local community and as far as Queensland and Perth just turned up and worked enormous hours to keep things rolling.

Things were far from perfect and at times it was chaotic but everyone kept doing what they could.

The plans were presented to the Premier on 4th March and the State Government through VBRRA, DHS and the Office of Housing kicked into gear and got things moving fast.

When you go to the rec now there are 15 dongas, 12 semi permanent units, a few caravans that are now not occupied, a road, laundry, toilets and shower blocks, water tanks, power, plumbing and internet access. The containers of goods have been progressively sorted and the goods moved to the relief hub at the Community Hall for distribution.

There is still more to do including a communal kitchen and more units but it has really bedded down.

With the weather becoming cold and wet we are getting ongoing applications for accommodation. It is very tough for anyone living in a caravan/tent/makeshift accommodation on a block. I was with relatives earlier this week who are living in a caravan and I have seen it first hand. (Not my Flowerdale relatives but another lot who also lost their home on Black Saturday).

Expressions of interest from anybody interested in living at the temporary village can be sent to or ring the Seymour DHS office Ph 57936400 and ask for the Housing Bushfire Response Team.

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