Council's Municipal Recovery Plan

Tree and debris

At the April 2022 Council Meeting, Council endorsed the updated Municipal Recovery Plan (April 2022)(DOCX, 6MB)  which outlines the actions that will be undertaken (subject to funding) in the coming year. 

Commitments were made at the December 2021 Council meeting when the original Municipal Recovery Plan 2021(PDF, 34MB)  was presented that the Plan would be updated at regular intervals to reflect the funding received and actions that will be/have been undertaken. 

The Yarra Ranges is renowned for its environment, produce, and viticulture both nationally and internationally. The land is literally the bedrock for its residents, both short term and those who have cared for it over thousands of years.

This land and its people have weathered many natural disasters and will again in the future, coming back with more resilience. The combination of the COVID-19 pandemic laid over with the catastrophic storms of June 2021, was a burden beyond compare and has bought the land and many of its people to breaking point.

The restrictions enacted to control the pandemic have had disastrous implications for this community. Some of the most significant aspects being:

  • Mental health and wellbeing for all generations has significantly degraded. This is demonstrated by support agencies reporting that rates of domestic violence have doubled since the pandemic began (having already been double the state average before the pandemic), and the number of active mental health patients increasing by 90%2.
  • The historic unreliability of telecommunications and power infrastructure has:
    • undermined the ability of businesses to operate or pivot
    • significantly magnified the social isolation of communities that cannot link to any services, facilities or family within a 5km radius, and
    • created a generational impact on the education of our young people.
  • Tourism, hospitality and creative industries have been brought to the brink of collapse;

Then, on the eve of the restrictions from Victoria’s fifth lockdown lifting, while businesses were restocking in the hope of drawing back some cashflow, the Yarra Ranges municipality experienced the epicenter of one of the most violent storms in Victoria’s history.

This disastrous event resulted in:

  • 71 properties destroyed
  • more than 1,000 homes and business extensively impacted by storm debris
  • almost 5,000 properties impacted by flood
  • more than 3,000 homes without power and internet for more than month
  • a conservative estimate of 25,000 fallen trees across the region
  • 34 communities lost NBN/internet service and were unable to call 000 for assistance
  • extensive damage to roads
  • 3,157 drainage/tree related requests for assistance from the community.

The extensive recovery experience of Yarra Ranges Council and local governments across Victoria suggests that recovering from the combined events will take at least five years for some aspects.

Current estimates for the works to resurrect the public land and infrastructure, support rebuilding as well as support community and business resilience will cost $55 million dollars. This figure does not account for the significant clean-up effort required on private land.

The Yarra Ranges Council Municipal Recovery Plan outlines the preferred model for recovery for the region, however, Yarra Ranges Council cannot manage this burden without the support of the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments through the standard arrangements clearly articulated under Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

The Recovery Action Plan that supports this document, identifies those activities that are currently funded through either Yarra Ranges Council or the Victorian Government, and those that are proposed but not yet funded. Without clarity on the level of funding support available, the funding required activities are outside of the Yarra Ranges Council’s financial capacity without impacting standard service delivery for the municipality. 

The Municipal Recovery Plan will be reviewed quarterly. This will ensure that the actions undertaken are continuing to address the impacted communities and lands greatest needs.