Bushfire Recovery Program

Gateway Health is one of six organisations across Victoria providing support and ‘case management’ services to help people affected by severe bushfires, as part of a new approach to bushfire recovery being coordinated by Bushfire Recovery Victoria.

Bushfire Recovery Victoria was set up by the Victorian Government during the major bushfires which swept large parts of the state in the summer of 2019-20.

Gateway Health’s Bushfire Recovery Team works with individuals, families and communities to help with

  • Applications for financial grants
  • Referral to other organisations for financial assistance
  • Access to mental health support
  • Access to financial counsellors
  • Access to family violence support programs
  • Access to gambling support services
  • Help in reaching doctors, dentists, and others
  • Helping in getting aid to support livestock
  • Help in sourcing items for rebuilding
  • Coordination of donations of new items like generators, white goods etc, and;
  • Speaking up for bushfire affected communities with local and state government authorities.

In short, we’re here to help you and can do that in many different ways. (And we’re continue to work in a Covid-safe way through the pandemic.)

If you would like one of our case managers to work with you, please get in touch. Our services are free and funded by Bushfire Recovery Victoria.

Call the Bushfire Recovery Hotline on 1800 560 760, or Gateway Health on 1800 657 573 for more information.

Feel free to download a copy of our Information Brochurefor you or anyone else you think could benefit from it.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

What sort of ‘outreach’ services do we offer?

Our case managers can meet you at a local Recovery Hub (when open), or can meet you at your home or anywhere else that is convenient.

Since the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic, we have also been providing services via phone and video-conferencing.

Who is eligible for help? 

To be eligible for case support assistance you must be a resident of Towong Shire, Alpine Shire, Mansfield Shire, or the Rural City of Wangaratta municipality. Individuals living in surrounding areas that were also impacted by the 2019/2020 fire event may also be eligible. Get in touch for more information. 

Where are Gateway Health’s Bushfire Recovery Team ‘case managers’ located?

Gateway Health’s Bushfire Recovery Team is a mobile workforce. They go to where they are needed.

The team of 12 skilled professionals all live in the North East, providing outreach services to fire affected communities.

Can we offer money to help people?

In some cases, yes. Gateway Health’s Bushfire Recovery Program has funding that can be allocated to clients (within certain limits) to help them with immediate needs. Everyone’s recovery journey is very different, so funds are allocated on a case by case basis.

Do we work with other services?

We work collaboratively with a number of government agencies and other community organisations to wrap support around our clients.

We recognise it your journey to recovery, which means you’re in charge. When you’re being “case managed” by us we will always ask for your permission before getting in touch with another service, and we’ll go only as far as you want us to.

We’ll always respect your decisions. 

Do we help people from other Shires?

Yes, if they live in the North East and were impacted by the 2019/2020 fire events. We’re funded to work with residents of Towong Shire, Alpine Shire, Mansfield Shire and the Rural City of Wangaratta, but we’ve also helped residents in Indigo Shire and the City of Wodonga who were fire-affected.

If you have any questions, get in touch. Call the Bushfire Recovery Hotline on 1800 560 760.

How long will we stick with you?

For as long as you need. We’ve been working with clients since January 2020, and a number of clients who have finished up with us have come back, because of new fire-related issues that have come up for them. 

How can you know our team members are genuine?

One of the many issues facing fire affected communities is the problem of scammers. At the start of the recovery process, they were everywhere, and to counter that we made the decision to put our recovery officers in uniforms to clearly identified them. Gateway Health Bushfire Recovery officers, when the come out to meet you, will always be dressed in their uniform, and will carry with thea photo ID that you can ask to see.

Thanks to the global pandemic, some of our initial contacts have been by phone, which makes it harder to prove we are who we say we are.

Usually, we will have information that only an authorised recovery officer could know, based on the intake you went through when you called the Bushfire Recovery Hotline. In most cases, that will be enough for you to know whether or not the person on the other end of the phone is really there to help you.

If, for any reason, you are not sure about the identity of the person you’re speaking with, we encourage you to hang up, call Gateway Health on 1800 657 573, and ask to be put through to either the Bushfire Recovery Intake Coordinator, or the Bushfire Recovery Program Manager. Our wonderful reception staff will connect you with one of those two officers, and they can confirm the identity of the person you’ve been speaking to. Those officers will be able to access the schedules of the team and will know whether or not a case manager was due to contact you.

If the person who contacted you was not a member of our team, we will support you to contact the police. Gateway Health will press charges against any individual falsely claiming to work for us.

If you call us to confirm the identify of someone who has been in touch with you, please make sure you have the person’s name handy and the time of their call. If possible, also have the number they called on written down somewhere so that you can refer to it.

There is a lot of paperwork – is it really necessary?

We don’t have a lot of paperwork for you, but we do acknowledge that when you’re applying for grants or financial assistance there can be a lot of reading and a bit of writing involved.

If you have any issues with any paper work you’ve been given or have downloaded from online, talk to us and we’ll help you. Our case managers won’t write your grant applications for you, unless you absolutely need us to, but we are always more than happy to go that extra step if you’re feeling overwhelmed, if you have literacy or numeracy issues, or if the paperwork is confusing.

Just ask. 

If you don’t get a grant, is that the end of the road?

No. Part of our job, as case managers, is to advocate for you and we’ve become pretty good at it.

If you didn’t get one grant, it doesn’t mean you won’t get others. If, despite everyone’s efforts, you don’t get a particular recovery grant you were aiming for, there may be other options and often there are other grants. We’ll work closely with you to identify your options and find other potential funding streams for you.

Disaster recovery can be complicated and difficult, with different needs at different stages – we understand that.

No one in our team is doing this work because it’s just a job. Every one of us is doing this work because we live in the North East, and we were all, in some way, affected by the fires. We care about every single community in our region, and we’re genuinely committed to doing all we can to help you get back on your feet.

What about Covid-19 - is it safe to approach us?

Gateway Health is a health service provider committed to keeping our clients and staff safe at all times, whether there is a global pandemic happening or not.

Because Bushfire Recovery is considered an essential service. we are able to maintain outreach visits during lockdowns - however, we only do a face-to-face visit where it is absolutely necessary.

When conducting outreach, our case managers follow Department of Health and Human Services Covid-safe guidelines, as well as Gateway Health’s own policy requirements.

Before coming out to visit you we’ll call and ask you a few questions, and when we turn up we will be in masks and will maintain safe physical distancing from you at all times. We’ll also ask you to wear a mask when interacting with us.

We understand that wearing a mask can be a little uncomfortable, and it can look a little strange, but we have a duty of care to you and to each other that means we will take every precaution necessary to keep you and everyone else safe.

In Victoria, at the time of writing this, there is a Public Health Order in place requiring all of us to wear masks when we are out and about, or in situations like ‘essential outreach’, where someone comes onto your property that is not a member of your household.

If you have a medical exemption from wearing a face mask, please let your case manager know and please show them that exemption when they ask to see it.

Unfortunately, if you do not have a medical exemption and do not comply with the Public Health Order, we’ll respect your opinion but will be obliged to leave, and instead maintain contact via the phone or video-conferencing until the Public Health Order is lifted.