Bushfire Relief and Recovery FAQ

Published on 08 January 2020

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It’s been a harrowing time of late. Whether you’ve been personally affected by the bushfires, know someone who has been affected or are feeling anxious given your experience with bushfires in previous years, here is some information that may help.


Who can I talk to about how I’m feeling?

The Australian Mental Health Alliance has set up a website which contains useful information and contacts at https://apmha.com.au/bushfires/

If you or anyone you know needs help, here are some places you can call:

  • Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636

  • Lifeline on 13 11 14

  • Headspace on 1800 650 890

  • Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467


Can I drink rainwater from a tank?

The Department of Health and Human Services has provided the following advice.

Advice to the residents in non bushfire-affected areas who rely on rainwater tanks for drinking:

  • There have been queries from people living outside bushfire-affected areas reporting that the drinking water from their rainwater tank tastes of smoke.

  • The smoke taint alone is unlikely to be a health concern.

  • However, if you are concerned about the taste of your rainwater, use bottled water for drinking and continue to use your rainwater for other uses.

Advice to the public in bushfire-affected areas who rely on rainwater tanks for drinking:

  • A bushfire affected area is where water retardant and water bombing activities have occurred, and ash has fallen directly onto the properties.

  • If you live in a bushfire affected area your private drinking water could be contaminated from debris, ash, dead animals, aerial fire retardants and water-bombing.

  • If the water tastes, looks or smells unusual, do not drink, use for food preparation, brushing teeth or give to animals (pets or livestock).

  • Boiling water doesn’t remove fire retardants or other chemicals from your water.

  • Fire affected water in your tank can still be used for irrigation, toilet flushing and firefighting purposes. Water testing is not necessary.

  • There are things you can do to protect your private drinking water supply to ensure it is not affected by a bushfire event.

Click here to go to the Department of Health and Human Services website for more information.


It is quite smoky and I would like a P2 mask – can Council provide one?

  • Unfortunately, Council does not supply P2 smoke masks. They are also generally in short supply, given increased demand for masks in areas directly impacted by fires and therefore experiencing extremely smoky conditions.

  • Health authorities advise that these masks are not an alternative to avoiding smoke and suggest those with lung conditions, or those who are most vulnerable, including the very young and the elderly, stay indoors with windows and doors closed if the smoke is causing concern. Read more here.

  • If you have concerns about your health, please get in touch with your GP or NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24. 

  • You can find up to date air quality information on the Environment Protection Authority Victoria’s website at www.epa.vic.gov.au/airwatch 


I would like to donate food/goods/money/room in my house

Material goods

  • The Victorian Government has asked people to stop donating goods and to instead consider donating money to assist communities to recover from the bushfires donation of money is much more effective and provides more flexibility than the donation of material items or pre-loved goods.

Cash donations

  • Please make sure you are donating cash to a reputable cause or agency so you ensure it is going to those in need.

  • The Victorian Government has endorsed the nation-wide Bendigo Bank Bushfires Disaster Appeal and all money donated will go to those who have lost everything for immediate relief. Click here for more information.

  • You can also donate via the Victorian CFA.

  • You can donate through the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, the Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul.


Fundraising Scams

There are reports of a number of scammers operating, who are contacting people asking for cash donations for the bushfires.  See more here for hints on how to avoid scammers when donating.

To ensure your money ends up helping those in need, you could consider donating via the Community Enterprise Foundation – a partnership between the Victorian Government, Bendigo Bank and The Salvation Army. 

100% of funds collected will go directly to fire-affected communities. Donations can be made at any Bendigo Bank branch or online at Community Enterprise Foundation


Emergency Accommodation

  • Offers of emergency accommodation for people displaced by the East Gippsland bushfires are being managed by their local council. Those able to help should email feedback@egipps.vic.gov.au, with details of location, bedrooms available, facilities and return contact details.

  • We understand people are also using Airbnb or ‘Find A Bed’ to offer beds or homes to evacuees.


The Department of Health and Human Services also has a number of community fact sheets available on their website here

For the latest emergency information and warnings visit www.emergency.vic.gov.au or download the VicEmergency app.

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