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Bushfire funding helps young family build new home

Cooroibah

A story from Cooroibah in Queensland, reflecting life in October 2020.

“Everything went. So, the house went, the pool went, the septic tank went, the water tank went. You never expect everything to go at once – the fences, the solar – everything,” explained Holly Kemp from Cooroibah, near Noosa in Queensland. “It’s definitely been a rollercoaster of emotions. We’ve had good times and bad times.”

Before the Black Summer fires, Holly, her husband and two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Ruby, were living in their dream house on five acres, slowly doing small renovations to what they considered their ‘forever’ family home. 

“We were the only house in our area to go up. Neighbours lost sheds and granny flats but we were the only whole house to go,” said Holly.

Now 10 months on Holly is pregnant with her second child and they have been renting while trying to build a new home.

“We had insurance but we were under-insured, so they just paid us out and went away. They left us to find everything and when you’ve never thought of building or had plans to build, it’s very, very daunting,” said Holly.

“My husband got a message on Facebook from this young girl who felt quite impacted by the fires and wanted to help in some way, so she started up a little not-for-profit group with her father, who is a builder,” she said.

“They’ve been our builder since. We’ve had lots of support from local tradies and others who are able to build our house to the cost close to what we had available. They are not working for free but they have definitely reduced their hourly rates and cost price for us. That’s what’s gotten us through the past six months.”

Holly was also able to access some grants from local charities and her insurance covered the 12 months rental, which should get them through until they move into the new house just before Christmas.

“We got the disaster relief payment, so we were able to access that from the Australian Government, and an evacuation payment,” she said.

They also received donations from the Red Cross, St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army. Most of this has gone into financing the building of their new home.

However, it is not just the money that has been important. “The ladies from the Red Cross were awesome – they would ring us up every couple of weeks to make sure we were okay, and we still hear from them every now and then,” said Holly.

Holly’s new baby is due in February, just in time to enjoy the new home.