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Recovery stories

On this page you will find some stories of recovery from the 2019-20 'Black Summer' bushfires. They capture a moment in time during the journey of different people affected in different ways. They tell stories like that of so many around Australia and describe things people are continuing to work through or have found helpful.

While reading these stories, please remember there is no correct pace for personal bushfire recovery. Go at a speed that suits you and if you ever need help, please do not hesitate to contact us or message us via Facebook.

Navigating life after the fires looks different for everyone and there is no single journey to recovery. Seeing the choices other people make in their recovery can help you make your own decisions. As a national agency we seek to share lessons learned and community experiences.

We are adding more stories all the time. If you would like to share your experience we would love to hear from you – contact the NBRA.

BizRebuild

A story from the South Coast of NSW, reflecting life in June 2020

The pop-up mall in Mogo during its construction

For most business owners affected by the Black Summer bushfires, the first question they ask is: “how long will it be before I can open the doors again?”

It can be a hard, long road to get a business up and running after a major event like a bushfire. That’s why the Business Council of Australia (BCA) developed BizRebuild.

BizRebuild is a business-led initiative that provides practical, on-the-ground assistance to small and local businesses left devastated by the bushfires. It is a five-year initiative specifically designed to help businesses recover and create jobs, rebuild stronger communities, and restore thriving local economics.

“Business is the glue that keeps communities together. Whether it is bushfires or global pandemic, we need businesses to pull through and keep communities alive,” said BizRebuild Chair, Sir Peter Cosgrove. 

“We’re doing what business does best: acting quickly to cut through red tape and get things done.” 

On New Year’s Eve 2019, the NSW South Coast village of Mogo was devastated by catastrophic bushfires. Many businesses were lost or damaged. But within six weeks, 13 demountable buildings, donated by BCA member ATCO, were delivered to create a pop-up mall.

“These containers that have been put together for us are the best thing that could have happened to us because that’s the only way we could run our business. It will give us an opportunity to have a place to come to work to. We just wanted to trade and service our customers,” explained Lorena Granados, owner of Roman Leathergoods. 

The pop-up mall is expected to stay in place for 1-2 years while more permanent facilities are built. BizRebuild has also distributed 289 vouchers worth $392,000 for businesses impacted both directly and indirectly by the bushfires on the NSW South Coast. Nationally, it has distributed 631 vouchers worth $720,500.

Small businesses can use the $500 business recovery vouchers for professional services such as local lawyers and accounting services to help draw up business recovery plans. Small businesses and tradespeople can use the $2,000 business recovery vouchers to replace tools and equipment. 

Cobargo resident Scott Herring was able to buy a much-needed compressor for his business.

“Having this voucher available meant that I could take advantage of a good deal from a local supplier at the time,” he said.

“BCA have made it easy to buy essential equipment as I need to and be reimbursed later. Thanks in advance for this very amazing initiative from the BCA. It makes a real difference.” 

For more information on BizRebuild, visit www.BizRebuild.com.au

BlazeAid 

A story from across Australia, reflecting life in June 2020

At Bruthen, February 2020, BlazeAid Camp – launch of the Inkind Post and Wire help. Kevin and Rhonda Butler with a local farmer who lost his home in the East Gippsland fires. Credit: BlaizeAid

Retired school teacher now full-time sheep farmer, Kevin Butler started BlazeAid after the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.

“Why did we start? Well, we knew people who had lost their lives [in the 2019 fires],” Kevin said. 

“So, when you have extraordinary circumstances like that, everyone just gives, and it just kept on evolving into this big, well-oiled machine.”

Kevin is passionate about helping people recover from a natural disaster.

“You may think that one-size-fits-all in disaster recovery, but that’s just nonsense. Disaster recovery is very much a people’s business. It is getting into the hearts and the minds and the souls of the people,” he said.

After running BlazeAid for 11 years, Kevin has some ideas on what recovery looks like.

“The number one thing about recovery is there must be an overt effort to stay in the game for the long run. And you must have a relationship with the local community, and it doesn’t happen overnight."

The organisation locates to a town and can stay for up to a year to help the community recover.

Kevin also said it was important to be transparent with donations. “You’ve got to be really good with governance and absolutely scrupulous on the distribution of money,” he said.

“The catchphrase is, and I teach this to coordinators: ‘are we distributing the money as the donor intended?’”

Kevin believes local councils are in the best position to be at the forefront of disaster recovery, but they need to build the relationships before tragedy strikes. “Councils have to ‘dig the well’ before they need the water,” says Kevin.

And finally, it’s no surprise that the founder of a volunteer-based organisation is committed to building volunteerism. “Volunteers really are the oxygen of Australia, and volunteers need to be held up as the incredible people they are.”

St Vincent de Paul support

A story from the Mid North Coast of NSW, reflecting life in June 2020

Some of the damage caused by the Black Summer bushfires

Farmer Darren Sage said he had already been “bled dry” by the drought before a bushfire destroyed his home and cattle farm in Bellangry on the NSW Mid North Coast.

While it was a gruelling summer for many impacted by the fires, it came on top of a relentless few years for Darren, his wife Julie, and his fellow farmers.

“The drought just bleeds you of every cent that you’ve got,” Darren said. “You’ve got no other income, no other money to do anything, because the drought just takes everything. You’re just continuously hoping for rain, continuously pouring money back into the farm to try to keep everything alive for when it does rain.”

That long-awaited rain has now come, but it’s not yet enough to heal the land from the worst drought on record in NSW. And Darren fears more hardship is ahead, as the November 2019 bushfire tore through stocks of grain and food. That means prices are likely to go up and keeping his cattle alive might get harder than ever. 

“We got wiped out completely, we lost everything,” Darren said. “House: 100 per cent. Sheds: 100 per cent. All our farming things. All our infrastructure, all gone. We basically left with half a suitcase of clothes each, and that was it.”

Darren was clear on one important thing: “I refuse to let it break me. I’m always positive, so the drought or the fire’s not going to take that away from me.”

The couple are living in temporary accommodation provided by their insurer while the debris is cleared, and their home is rebuilt.

They have been buoyed by an emergency cash transfer from Vinnies, along with food and fuel vouchers. Darren said the support they continued to receive from Vinnies’ Client Support Officer, Donna Boyd, was “absolutely amazing”.

“Donna is the only one who has rang and been fair dinkum, if I could say it that way. She’s just been there for us,” he said. 

“She’s the only one that’s gone out of her way to make sure that we’re alright, out of a lot of people, and she’s still trying now to help us.

“And where a lot of people, including the government, just leave you to your own devices, so to speak, she’s always been making sure we’re alright.”

Givit

A story from across Australia, reflecting life in June 2020

73-year-old Bob Aston’s new water tank being installed. Credit: Robbie Zonta

Solange Ardiles works as a Victorian Manager for GIVIT, a not-for-profit organisation that matches generosity with genuine need. “Since joining GIVIT, I have seen the raw end of being impacted by the fires,” Solange said.

“When I think of the things some people – some children – have seen and lived through, I want to do the best I can to make their recovery process as seamless and comfortable as possible.”
Solange said she joined GIVIT because she never quite understood the ineffective, even harmful, impact misdirected donating has on a community. 

“I have to admit I was one of the people that loaded my car and went to a drop-off point.”

She said she started to question these donations. 

“Did these communities really need the items I was donating? Were the drop-off points I saw on social media legitimate, planned, and coordinated? Were the communities in a position to receive these goods, sort, and store them? As a member of the community, I had lost trust in the way charities ran their operations. This was validated when many stories of redirected bushfire funds made the news headlines after the fires. So, I always preferred to give goods instead of money.”

Solange said imposing unwanted support services and unsolicited donated goods on community members was a problem. For example, she said some donations of excess, inappropriate, or poor-quality items ended up sitting in containers in Mallacoota and Corryong. Sorting and distributing these unwanted donations has taken months and valuable resources. 

GIVIT is working with other charities who are also overwhelmed with unsolicited donations. One organisation based in Adelong, in the NSW Snowy Valleys, received donations of businesswear and nappies, although the group was made up of retirees. GIVIT has arranged for these donations to be collected and redistributed to family services in Bega who are in urgent need of these items.

The GIVIT team has been working in collaboration with local government agencies, councils, and support agencies on-the-ground. The organisation has played an active role in a water tanks working group that is providing access to clean drinking water in Victoria’s north-east. 

GIVIT is using donated funds to pay for local tradesman for the site preparation, installation, and certification of water tanks for residents affected by the fires. 

Balmoral Community Recovery Hub

A story from Balmoral in NSW, reflecting life in July 2020

Some of the Balmoral Community Recovery Hub team

Picton is 80 kilometres south-west of Sydney in the Wollondilly Local Government Area. It is part of the broader communities of Buxton and Balmoral that were badly affected by the Black Summer bushfires (Green Wattle Fire).

Kerrie O’Grady is the president of the Picton District Branch of Country Women’s Association (CWA) of NSW. Kim Hill is a Rural Fire Service volunteer. Together, the two friends set-up a Community Recovery Hub in the small Balmoral Village Hall to manage the donations that flooded in after the bushfires.

“Initially, we had a donation of $5,000 worth of fruit on Christmas Eve – after a while we got to the point where the fruit needed to be turned into jam,” Kerrie said.

“So I just sent a message out to the CWA ladies that I needed jam makers – many branches put their hands up and turned the excess fruit into jam and banana bread and muffins which we then handed out to people as much needed food… The ladies from the CWA just gave it their all.”

When Kerrie started running the Community Recovery Hub with Kim, she knew it was going to be a big task.

“But I knew I had the CWA behind me,” she said. 

“The branch I am in has extremely well-educated, highly skilled, and very capable women. They might be retired but their brains haven’t stopped. I knew I could draw on those skills to help Kim, to help me, to help people at the Hub.”

Kerrie said one of the main benefits of the CWA is the networking capability. Many of the women had husbands that ran or volunteered for Rotary, Lions, and the local Men’s Sheds and this allowed them to reach more volunteer services. 

“The fact that we could just stretch our hands and fingers out and grab these people when and where we needed them. That’s community,” she said.
Kerrie and Kim brought the Bargo Men’s Shed on board. 

“They came and took over our tools and hardware section for us, which was a real bonus, Kerrie said. “They’d go ferreting and find what the local guys needed, so that to me is also community.” 

“Not only did this help us, but it also gave the local men a place to come and talk with other men and not only about tools. This greatly assisted their mental wellbeing.”

Kerrie said the other thing that worked well was the cooperation between agencies. All the supporting agencies – Red Cross, Anglicare, Salvation Army, Service NSW, Lions Club, and Rotary – would all come to the hub on the days it was open. 

“This meant all of the victims could just go to one place. They parked their car, had a cup of tea, they were able to talk to all these agencies at the one time, in the one place where they felt comfortable, safe and supported.”

Kerrie and Kim set-up a registration system which listed all the agencies and all the services that were available. This system allowed victims to see what was available and what they could access. If there were new grants available, then this would be added to the system and it allowed the Recovery Hub to ensure people got everything they were entitled to.

“Many of them would walk in the door and say ‘what do I have to do today, who have I got to see’ and because we knew them, and we had the registration system we would say you haven’t seen Lions yet and you may qualify for the Lions help or a new government grant,” Kerrie explained.

The CWA is still involved in supporting victims of the bushfires across several NSW towns. 

“A couple of our local ladies are quilters and they wanted to get their quilts to people who had lost everything. So the word soon spread to other quilting groups who also wanted to help and we have received hundreds of quilts from all across NSW and Far North Queensland. So far, we have handed out 300 home-made quilts and I still have a hundred in storage.” 

The quilts were made to wrap people with love and provide some comfort.

Personal and financial recovery assistance is available for individuals, small businesses and primary producers. Visit our ‘Recovery support’ page for more information. 

Mogo Zoo

A story from Mogo in NSW, reflecting life in July 2020

Mogo Zoo, New Year’s Eve 2019. Credit: Mogo Zoo

Mogo Zoo, New Year’s Eve 2019. Credit: Mogo Zoo

Chad Staples is the Managing Director of Mogo Zoo, located on 65 acres on the NSW South Coast. The zoo is home to around 200 animals, from large animals like giraffe and rhinoceros through to the smallest marmosets.

“Our big day was New Year’s Eve,” Chad said, with reference to the Black Summer in 2019-20. 

“We don’t have the option of packing everything up and leaving so, no matter what, we will always need to stay here and defend, and that was our plan for the day.”

Chad advised the NSW Rural Fire Service that a group of 15 people was staying defend the zoo and its animals. The group equipped themselves as best they could. They had two tanks that held 2000 litres on the back of two vehicles. They had a lot of fire extinguishers, buckets, and wet hessian sacks. But it certainly wasn’t enough. They defended the zoo in whatever way they could. 

“We certainly haven’t had any firefighting experience; there wasn’t anyone on the site who had ever fought a fire before and I don’t know how you would ever get that training. It’s just the understanding that you need a heap of water and quickly,” Chad said.

“We did not lose a single animal. The fire hit us from every single angle of the park, and we lost about 90 per cent of our perimeter fence all the way around. It got onto the property in many spots – burnt out tree-lines, burnt out paddocks. But it never affected any enclosure.”

Koala Care

A story from Healesville in Victoria, reflecting life in August 2020

Zoos Victoria

Leafy the Koala recovering after the Black Summer bushfires 

At the height of last summer’s Black Summer bushfires, a great number of injured animals were emergency rescued and relocated to zoos across Australia for care and rehabilitation. 

With help from the Australian Government’s $200 million investment in bushfire recovery for wildlife and habitats, zoos have led efforts to establish insurance populations of at-risk species and treat animals injured in the fires. 

Leafy the koala was rescued from Mallacoota and brought to the Australian Wildlife Health Centre (AWHC) at Healesville Sanctuary for treatment. After receiving around-the-clock care for burns, he is recovering well. 

Vicky the koala was also rescued from Mallacoota and flown in a Spartan military transport aircraft (alongside Leafy) to receive veterinary care at AWHC. After receiving treatment for severe burns to her ears, face and feet, she was transferred to a larger rehabilitation enclosure at Phillip Island Nature Parks where she is gaining climbing strength and vitality.

Plans are now underway for a monitored release of both Leafy and Vicky back to the wild in Mallacoota, once their forest habitat has regenerated.

Merino wool growers and owners of Leroymac Designs

A story from Lexton in Victoria, reflecting life in August 2020

Some of the Merino sheep from Rodney and Rebecca McErvale's farm

Life before the Black Summer bushfires was busy for Rodney and Rebecca McErvale, who are merino wool growers in Victoria and owners of local business Leroymac Designs.

According to Rodney and Rebecca, they are the only company in Australia using the wool off their very own sheep to make quality machine-knitted and machine-washable pure Australian merino blankets and garments.

Rodney has also been a volunteer fire fighter with the Victorian Country Fire Authority for 30 years. On 20 December 2019, the wind changed direction, sparing the town of Lexton in Victoria. But the couple’s property was hit hard. They lost 95 per cent of their main farm, along with 300 sheep and 27 kilometres of fencing. The fire was so intense that even eight months later nothing will grow on 10 per cent of their property.

The road to recovery has been gradual.

Rodney spoke highly of the help from BlazeAid. Around seven BlazeAid volunteers arrived five weeks after the bushfires to help with the fencing. Given two-thirds of Rodney and Rebecca’s farm is joined by road, they were, in Rodney’s words, “a God-send”. 

Rural financial counsellors were also helpful, and informed the couple about their eligibility for the $75,000 Bushfire Recovery Grant for primary producers, funded through the Australian and Victorian governments. They used this grant for equipment hire, erosion control measures, fencing, and to buy a front-end loader to clean up his property. They also earmarked some of this money for pasture work later in the year. 

Rodney and Rebecca also received a $3,000 grant from the Victorian Farmers Federation that they used to build a loading ramp in place of cattle yards that had been destroyed.
Their Leroymac Designs business also received support. As part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT’s) Bushfire Support and Products Purchasing Program, DFAT purchased woollen blankets to present as special gifts overseas. 

Rebecca said she was grateful to DFAT for supporting their small business and providing them with an amazing opportunity to present their products to dignitaries around the world.

Rodney’s advice to others recovering from the bushfires was: “Don’t stress about the amount of work ahead of you. Everything will get done.”

Visit our primary producers support page for more information.

Caring for Carers

A story from across Australia, reflecting life in August 2020

A carer looking after local wildlife on the mend from the Black Summer bushfires

Volunteer wildlife carers have played an enormous role in the wake of last summer’s Black Summer bushfires. Many were involved with rescue operations at the height of the fires and many more have since helped with care and rehabilitation of our precious wildlife. But for some, the trauma of the bushfires has taken a toll.

With assistance from the Australian Government’s $200 million investment in bushfire recovery for wildlife and habitats, the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife teamed up with wildlife carer not-for-profit One Green Threads to create a free Caring for Carers program to support the mental health of more than 10,000 wildlife carers in Australia. 

This program includes online health resources, vaccination grants and a podcast series in conjunction with producer Gretchen Miller, wildlife carers and mental health experts, who share perspectives on climate worry, personal wellbeing, community conflict, catastrophic events, and supporting others.

Lithgow Live'N'Local music event

A story from Lithgow in NSW, reflecting life in August 2020

Local artist Brooke Webb from Tarana performing on stage

During the Black Summer bushfires, the Lithgow region near the Blue Mountains in NSW, was badly damaged. Around 2,371 square kilometres were burnt by fire and hundreds of properties damaged or destroyed.

“We thought music was a great way to begin the process of healing and rebuilding as well as bringing the community together,” said Ali Kim, acting Community Development Office at Lithgow City Council.

In collaboration with the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, the local council presented a season of Live’n’Local community music events. The plan was to run some big community events that brought people from bushfire-affected communities together, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to go with smaller venues with a predominantly virtual audience.

“We ran five events over a five-week period. Each event had between three and five separate acts - soloists, duos, and bands,” Ali said.

“Due to social distancing restrictions, each live audience was restricted to approximately 20 people, but the live streams were shared on Facebook, and each had over 2,000 viewers.”

One of the performers was 19-year-old Brooke Webb from Tarana. When she’s not singing, Brooke is also a NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteer. “It was pretty full-on last year in the bushfires. It was my first year and it was definitely stressful,” Brooke said. 

“The fire only reached our fence-line, but our neighbours had some of their land burnt out.”

The Live’n’Local events gave local musicians an avenue to perform and an opportunity to earn money. It was also a great way of connecting some of the region’s most isolated communities.

“The project has made a real difference to the region. Many of our local musicians were struggling in the aftermath of the devastating fires and coronavirus, and this project helped to bring the community back together, along with the small businesses of the region. It’s just a small step in the healing process but a valuable one,” said Ray Thompson, Lithgow City Council Mayor.

The events cost $10,000 to stage and organise. This funding came from an Australian Government grant that supports local councils.

To help the most severely bushfire-impacted Local Government Areas (LGAs) to quickly rebuild vital infrastructure and strengthen community resilience following the bushfires, the Australian Government provided payments to local councils under the LGA Grants Program. An initial $1 million payment was provided to LGAs in January 2020. Lithgow City Council received a total of $1.416 million in two payments.

As for Brooke, she intends to keep singing and volunteering with the NSW RFS. She also starts university next year, where she will study midwifery

HoneyBee Hives

A story from Jindabyne in NSW, reflecting life in September 2020

Di McQueen-Richardson and Scott Richardson, owners of HoneyBee Hives

Di McQueen-Richardson and Scott Richardson, owners of HoneyBee Hives

Di McQueen-Richardson and Scott Richardson, owners of HoneyBee Hives, live on a 100-acre property at Kremnos in Northern NSW.

Their bees were already suffering due to drought conditions when Di and Scott were asked to evacuate their property in mid-August 2019 and again in November 2019 due to bushfires. On both occasions, they returned home to find their house and beehives still standing.

Unfortunately, beehives close to bushfire-affected areas often suffer from smoke and heat stress. Heat stressed bee colonies can take months to recover and return to full honey production. Some colonies may even die.

After the fires, Di and Scott found the extreme heat had made their queen bees sterile, meaning they had to be replaced. Not knowing whether their bees would make much honey after the fires, Di and Scott had the idea of making home-made Christmas gifts using the beeswax they had stockpiled for over 10 years. With Di’s background as a natural therapist, she used her skills to create bees wax balm products with natural ingredients.

The bees wax products proved so popular with family and friends that a range of 15 beeswax balm products was born. Di said the biggest order so far has been from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), who bought 150 beeswax balm products and 150 jars of honey as part of their Australia now program. The program promotes Australian-made products from bushfire-affected areas through its overseas posts and overseas events.

The program is a way of showcasing Australia’s excellence, diversity and innovation and will be celebrated in Malaysia and in France. “Connecting our products to people across the globe is very exciting and may result in potential exports to Malaysia.” said Di.

Product of HoneyBee Hives

Product of HoneyBee Hives

Di believes HoneyBee Hives is better positioned after the bushfires than before because of their efforts to diversify into beeswax products.

Her advice to other small business owners and operators is to consider what resources you have, to always think outside the box and to avoid clinging to a particular role or title such as ‘I am a beekeeper’.

Di has been amazed at the amount of support available. Her small business has accessed Australian Government benefits such as the JobKeeper allowance and the $10,000 bushfire recovery grant for small businesses jointly funded by the Australian and New South Wales governments to help diversify the business into beeswax balm products.

Di also strongly suggested small businesses reach out to a business mentor and access all the support available. She found Rural Financial Counsellors very helpful, as well as the free business advice available through Business Connect, a program run by the NSW Government.

If you are a small business and/or primary producer that has been impacted by bushfires, you may be eligible for more assistance than you think! Visit our small business support page for more information.

Be You bushfire response program

A story from Jindabyne in NSW, reflecting life in September 2020

Chris McKnight (Director) Lyn Baughan (Educator) Sonia Evans (Educator) Cobargo Preschool

Chris McKnight (Director) Lyn Vaughan (Educator) Sonia Evans (Educator) Cobargo Preschool

To support the mental health of bushfire-affected learning communities, the Australian Government provided an additional $8 million to Beyond Blue through its existing national mental health in education initiative, Be You, to develop the Bushfire Response Program.

The program has engaged 25 Contact Liaison Officers (CLOs) through headspace and Early Childhood Australia to work closely with local schools and early childhood services in bushfire-affected communities across South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. CLOs work with communities to identify their needs and connect them to local mental health and wellbeing services and support, provide trauma informed information and learning, and support recovery planning. 

As COVID-19 restrictions have begun to ease in some areas, the CLOs have re-commenced face-to-face engagement, where appropriate, to provide crucial support in a COVID-safe way.
In July, some of the CLOs visited early childhood services and preschools in Cobargo, Mogo and Narooma on the NSW South Coast. Seven months after the devastating Black Summer bushfires swept through their communities, many staff have been left grappling with the situation, having maintained their role educators but also becoming a ‘life-line’ to families within these communities. 

Bushfire damaged play equipment at Cobargo Preschool

Bushfire damaged play equipment at Cobargo Preschool

The CLOs have provided wellbeing and self-care sessions to educators, giving them an opportunity to tell their stories and share their concerns about their own mental health. The focus of the program is on equipping educators and teachers with strategies to support their own wellbeing, so they can provide the best possible support for others. 

Janet from Mogo Aboriginal Preschool asked the Contact Liaison Officers to, “Please come back soon.” 

CLO Keri Baker says she looks forward to returning to the region again in late August. “The communities need our support, although the strength and collaboration of the communities we visited is incredible.” 

Early learning services and schools are able to sign up to Be You at any time, free of charge, at www.beyou.edu.au. Learning communities are also encouraged to contact Be You if they believe their school or early learning service may benefit from support provided by the Bushfire Response Program.
 

Snowy Mountain Cookies

A story from Jindabyne in NSW, reflecting life in September 2020

 

Snowy Mountain Cookies workplace

 

Snowy Mountains Cookies has been in business for 14 years, supplying Australian cookies and savoury snacks to the locals of Jindabyne and other businesses. 

During the Black Summer bushfires, their Jindabyne workplace and the homes of 20-30 staff were classified as no-go zones. The town was mostly evacuated over the summer holiday season, and the local economy took a big hit without its seasonal trade.

The experience of being under the threat of fires for weeks took its toll, not just financially but emotionally too.

“2020 has made us rethink what we value during our time at work and when away from work,” said Mr Nolen Oayda, owner of Snowy Mountain Cookies.

“The hardships, the sacrifice, and the frustration that small business owners go through is exhausting and when things aren’t going well and there’s no money coming in the door, mental and physical stress takes its toll. Having day-to-day business hurdles is one thing but having the combination of fires and COVID-19 is more than most of us have ever planned for.”

Snowy Mountain Cookies received government support including a $10,000 Small Business Grant from the Australian and New South Wales governments, and flexibility around their PAYG obligations.

The business also got a welcome boost from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), who recently purchased some of their gourmet products to use at international events.
DFAT is actively working with the NBRA and local councils to identify businesses in bushfire-affected areas to support by engaging them to supply products for diplomacy events across the globe.

These events promote Australia’s creative excellence, innovation, goods and services to international markets.

“The DFAT program has been incredibly helpful, they were able to help my company with a worthy order and will promote our products abroad in hope of confirming an exporting distribution channel,” Mr Oayda said.

“I’m optimistic about the future, you have to be. Realistically, the current situation of COVID-19 is the issue, how we manage that will determine what the short-term future will bring. In 20 years, it won’t matter but for the next five years our current situation is going to play a big role. I just hope the 2019-20 fire season doesn’t become a regular occurrence.”

Visit our small business support page for more information.
 

Time Machine bookstore, Merimbula

A story from Jindabyne in NSW, reflecting life in September 2020

Simon Saunders owner of Time Machine Bookstore.

Time was standing still for Simon Saunders, owner of the Time Machine bookstore in Merimbula. It was January 2020, usually the busiest time of the year, and the Black Summer bushfires had hit the area. All the tourists had left the town and Simon had to shut up shop for the season.

He heard through the National Bushfire Recovery Agency that he might be entitled to a $10,000 Small Business Grant and decided to apply through the NSW Government. 

“I was amazed at how easy it was – I received immediate confirmation and it only took a couple of weeks to receive the money,” Simon said.

“I told my fellow shop keepers about it and many of them applied too.”

Simon used the money to pay his rent for six months, which was particularly useful when COVID-19 kicked in, hitting the local tourism industry again.

“It’s made such a difference to me, not just financially but mentally too,” he said. “It’s lifted a huge amount of stress and worry about my business.”

Visit our small business support page for more information.

The 2019-20 bushfires have taken a traumatic emotional toll on many. If you or someone you care for is in need of immediate support you can contact the services below: