Special Edition Storm Recovery Newsletter


1. Overview

The June 2021 storm was like nothing we have experienced before.

For those who live in the Yarra Ranges, what happened during last year’s violent storm is still raw, and many are still on their recovery journey.

For some, that recovery journey is just starting while others may have made some progress over several months. For some the fallen trees are a reminder of the storm and for others something they want to be able to treasure into the future.

Whatever the case, Yarra Ranges Council has been and is continuing to work to help and support those impacted by the storm.

A Storm Recovery Special Edition Newsletter(PDF, 522KB) highlights the progress and work that has been undertaken over the last 12 months. It is also an opportunity to acknowledge the outstanding support from the community, during and after the storm.

Our heartfelt thanks to each and every community group and member for the assistance they provided, the shoulder they lent, the support they gave and the resilience they developed for their neighbourhood.

Since June 2021, Council’s Recovery Planning and Rebuilding Team has been on-hand to offer advice and assistance for those going through their recovery journey.

Council held specific planning and rebuilding events in April for residents who lost their homes which included presentations from planning consultants, landslip experts, architects and Dr Rob Gordon. In addition to these events, planning permit fees for properties damaged or destroyed by the storm are waived.

To date, 173 properties have been reported by the storm and 76 are considered uninhabitable. Contact 9294 6594 to book an appointment or ask about any planning matters related to the June 2021 storm.

Insurance issues have been and continue to be at the top of the agenda for many residents.

Council teamed up with the Insurance Council of Australia to host virtual one-on-one consultations where Insurance company representatives offered free advice for storm-related issues Questions and answers from this event can be found on Council's Recovery website: www.yarraranges.vic.gov.au/recovery/insurance.

Residents impacted by the June 2021 storm who are continuing to negotiate with their insurers can contact Eastern Community Legal Centre on 1300 325 200

Support is here for you

Victorian Storm Recovery Support Program will continue to be available to residents during 2022, which will enable Windermere, Anglicare and Oonah to continue with their important support services for a few more months.

Residents who have experienced trauma, damage or loss as a result of the June storm are able to discuss their circumstances with Windermere on 0408 521 320.

Further services are available for residents who need support.

Storm anniversary events

While some people do not want to dwell on the date of the first anniversary of the storm event, others expressed the need to gather, reflect on shared experiences, and/or thank people who helped.

After consultation with community groups, Yarra Ranges Council offered small grants to enable community-led gatherings to be held between Friday 27 May and Friday 24 June.

A total of $5,430 was allocated for children’s activities to community tree plantings. Events have focused on the importance of reconnecting with neighbours, and the opportunity to gather, talk, connect and share stories.

You suggested - what we have done

Following the community meetings held shortly after the storm, you made several suggestions. Here is an update on those suggestions and what Council has done with them:

You suggested

What has progressed

Establishing Community Recovery Committees Four Regional Community Recovery Committees have been established with a focus on identifying priorities and supporting community-led recovery initiatives.
Creating a hub or other community feature that is built from fallen tree wood eg sculptures, traditional owners smoking ceremony and healing, repair damaged buildings, furniture... Trees that can be reused for community purposes have been provided to a variety of artists and community groups.
Providing free firewood and mulch available for storm affected communities Two free firewood sessions have been provided to the community and 17,000m3 of mulch was made available.
Monthly dinners hosted by the council Some community groups are undertaking this.
Plan and act regarding dangerous trees BRV/Council coordinated a program to remove dangerous trees. BRV's program is now completed.
Better power and NBN solutions\underground power Satellites at 10 emergency relief centres have been installed and generator hook-ups at 8 Council facilities. Council continues to advocate to State Government and power distributors for improved service and connectivity on behalf of residents.
An improvement to initial response times – the first five days were spent with only CFA support Emergency Management Victoria are undertaking a review of all agencies.
Information and guidance about insurance provided to the community Council hosted two information sessions with the Australian Insurance Council
A relief centre set up in the Hills region Over the next 12 months Council is reviewing Community Relief Facilities
Identification labels for residents’ cars to pass through roadblocks seamlessly We are working with Victoria Police on this
Change-over switches on private property for generators This needs to be undertaken by a private and qualified electrician. Details available on Council’s website in relation to generators.
Compile a book of community stories and sell that book – the proceeds would then be donated Currently being considered
Unregistered tractors be used to help with clean-up We are working with VicRoads and the Dept of Transport on this
A review of emergency plans As part of our standard practice, Council has undertaken an internal review and Emergency Management Victoria has also conducted two reviews; community and operational
A single source of information to help oversee all the agencies and point people in the right direction Council supports response agencies during emergencies to provide emergency information, through several ways to assist everyone to access the information they need.


2. Who does what in an emergency?

Following the June storm, you, our community, asked for some information on what lessons Council had learned from the emergency. Council always undertakes a review of activities during any emergency to learn and grow.  The Lessons Learned Summary(PDF, 6MB)  is a short document highlighting the key themes.

Emergencies include anything from bushfires, severe storms, heatwaves, pandemic outbreaks, major transport accidents and siege or terror attacks.

Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) is the leading emergency management agency in Victoria.

They work with communities, government, agencies and businesses to strengthen their capacity to withstand, plan for, respond to and recover from emergencies.

Emergencies are given a classification and a government agency becomes the lead. Most of the time this is an emergency services such as SES, CFA and Victoria Police.

Council is not an emergency responder. Council provides a supporting role to the emergency agencies during an incident – this is usually in the form of providing resources such as machinery, or the use of buildings and sharing public information.

Detailed information about the roles of various authorities can be found in the Emergency Management Act 2013 and the Victorian State Emergency Management Plan (SEMP).

3. What does Council do in an emergency?

There are many things that Council does in an emergency, however our main role is to provide residents with a place to go for a variety of supports, often in the form of an Emergency Relief Centre.

We co-ordinate this work locally, with communities, as best we can and also in conjunction with various other Government agencies, Red Cross, community organisations and groups.

Relief support includes:

  • Shelter
  • Food and water
  • Some material items
  • Ability to reconnect with friends and family
  • Assist with temporary accommodation
  • Psychological first aid

Council staff are only allowed to enter into an area where there has been an emergency with the authorisation from the agency leading the event.

Council can lead community engagement sessions however this must be done in conjunction and with the approval of the leading agency.

4. Recovery: Community-led recovery and resilience

Research following various emergency events in Australia over the past 15 years or so has seen a community desire to be more involved with emergency management, response, resilience and recovery.

Yarra Ranges Council is working with the community through various ways to build future resilience and to recover from the June storm and pandemic.

Regional Community Recovery Committees

Four Regional Community Recovery Committees (RCRCs) supported by Yarra Ranges Council have been established to help contribute to the recovery priorities of their community.

They will have a crucial say in the long-term recovery from Covid-19 and the June storms that impacted the Yarra Ranges.

The four RCRCs are separated into the Hills, Urban, Valley and Upper Yarra with each committee consisting of community volunteers, a Councillor and a representative from Bendigo Community Bank.

Resilient Yarra Ranges

Council has recently been awarded $10 million from the Commonwealth Government to implement our Resilient Yarra Ranges Project.

The funds will be spent on the following projects:

Place based resilience planning – Will bring communities, local businesses, support organisations and agencies together from Monbulk, Healesville, Yarra Junction and their surrounds to benchmark and strengthen resilience.

Resilient energy precinct – A joint venture with Monash University and Council to assess the feasibility for a resilient microgrid across essential buildings in Monbulk.

Resilient buildings – Multiple Council community buildings that serve as emergency relief centres will be upgraded with a generator plug-in point and/or solar power capabilities.

Tree management and clean-up – Funding requested to complete clean-up in Council open spaces and bushlands from the 2021 storm, as well as delivering a proactive tree management program in high-risk areas.

Changing places facility – Provides suitable facilities for people who are unable to use standard accessible toilets at Kilsyth Sports Centre, which is also a designated emergency relief centre. This fills a need in the provision of emergency amenities for people who are unable to use standard accessible amenities.

Bushfire risk assessment – A bushfire risk assessment will be commissioned for the areas of the Dandenong Ranges impacted by the 2021 storm which will assist in the rebuilding process.

Emergency relief network – Will strengthen the role and involvement of the Yarra Ranges Emergency Relief Network to provide better coordinated support and material aid resources across Yarra Ranges.

The funding for the project is part of the Commonwealth Government’s $600 million Preparing Australian Communities Program, which is an investment over six years to build the nation’s resilience to natural disasters.

STAND Program

Ten Council facilities that are also emergency relief centres now have satellites that can be activated during and after an emergency when the broader network is down.

This means that these centres will be able to provide temporary internet connection for affected residents when the centres have been opened.

The satellites are at:

  • Coldstream Community Hall
  • Healesville Memorial Hall
  • Warburton Millgrove Sporting Complex
  • Yarra Centre, Yarra Junction
  • Yarra Glen Memorial Hall
  • Monbulk Living and Learning Centre
  • Powelltown Sporting Clubrooms
  • Karwarra Gardens
  • Olinda Recreation Reserve
  • Patch Public Hall

The following Council properties have been fitted with generator hook-ups so that they are still able to provide power to residents who attend these sites in an emergency.

  • Coldstream Community Hall
  • Healesville Memorial Hall
  • Warburton Millgrove Sporting Complex
  • Yarra Centre Pool and Stadium, Yarra Junction
  • Monbulk Community Sports Pavilion
  • Yarra Glen Memorial Hall
  • Kilsyth Sports Stadium
  • Mooroolbark Community Centre