In Cobargo people are still homeless after the fires, so where is the $2 billion going?

12 Mar

This morning I received the following email from my sister, Sarah, who lost her home in the Cobargo fires.

I’m speaking to ABC radio tomorrow about how bad the situation is down here.

I haven’t looked but have you written anything about it on your blog?

PLEASE will you write about how people are still living in tents? I heard a story about people with a disabled son, his wheelchair burnt and they are now paying to hire one. I hear of people who are still without power and water. I found another person who was renting and had been evicted because the landlord now needs to live in the house, she has 3 children and is caring for a disabled sister, they have nowhere to go. People who want to go home to their places in the bush can’t go there because the roads aren’t cleared. The organisations down here are giving priority to farmers and their fences and to businesses NOT the homeless.

This area is a place where Coronavirus would take off. We have no running water, no power, no toilets.

I saw on the tele tonight that the government has earmarked $2.4 billion to combat Coronavirus. Surely the best thing to combat disease is to house people?

Please tell everyone,

from Sarah

PS I’m so pissed off!

At the height of the fires, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison was shamed into returning to Australia one day early from his Hawaiian holiday, the PM announced a $2 billion bushfire recovery fund, presumably to assist people like my sister and the people she speaks of in her email. So far, several months after the catastrophe, only 10 per cent of that money has been allocated.

According to this ABC report, from March 2, the very existence of the recovery fund is questionable:

Labor Senator Murray Watt questioned whether the $2 billion fund actually existed, after National Bushfire Recovery Agency deputy coordinator Abigail Bradshaw told the hearing the fund was “notional”.

“So, the Prime Minister’s announcement on the 6th of January, when he was under a lot of pressure, was that he had established a national bushfire recovery fund. But there is no fund, is there, it’s not anywhere within the budget statements?” Senator Watt asked.

So, is there or isn’t there a $2 billion bushfire relief fund? And if there is, why is it taking so long to distribute the funds to people in desperate situations? And if there isn’t, what the hell is the Coalition government playing at?

Winter in the Cobargo area is cold. Nobody wants to be living in a tent. Nobody wants to be without power, heating, and water. What do people struggling to survive the loss of everything actually have to do to see some of this $2 billion, to which they are absolutely entitled?

Morrison and his government have moved on to the COVID-19 crisis, which they no doubt see as an opportunity for them to  repair the massive loss of confidence, and the credibility they so thoroughly trashed during the bushfire disaster. We can only hope that monies promised to deal with the pandemic actually exist and, unlike the bushfire fund, are appropriately dispersed in time to have some effect.

In the meantime, the Coalition must answer all the questions surrounding the national bushfire recovery fund, the most urgent being, does it even exist? Because there are people in Cobargo, and I suspect many other fire-affected towns and villages across the country, who are living in tents and see no immediate relief from hardship, despite Morrison’s promises.

 

 

10 Responses to “In Cobargo people are still homeless after the fires, so where is the $2 billion going?”

  1. samjandwich March 12, 2020 at 3:22 pm #

    So it says here…https://www.bushfirerecovery.gov.au/ – if you’ve been “seriously” injured, lost a family member, your home or a “major asset” has been “significantly” damaged, you can get a grant of $1000 per adult, $800 per child (less probably if you’re not yet at school), and Newstart for 13 weeks – or if you’re already on Newstart you don’t have to look for work until… last week!

    Beyond that – I suppose they expect people to head along to their local homelessness service, if there even is one.

    Otherwise if there is indeed a fund it appears to be entirely devoted to infrastructure, environment and wildlife (proportions??), encouraging tourists back, and grants to small business and primary producers.

    Are we to conclude then that what your sister is seeing is actually part of a deliberate strategy of abandoning those in the greatest need to struggle on by themselves, because “the economy” is more important?

    Like

    • Anonymous March 12, 2020 at 3:38 pm #

      Hi samjandwich, this is the sister from Cobargo. YES that’s what its like. If you leave a dog without water the RSPCA will prosecute. if you leave a person without water then sorry, fencing cows is more important.

      Like

  2. Tony Daish March 13, 2020 at 5:47 pm #

    Same way as the 1956 flood relief funds.
    Rich got it all. We got kicked off the farm we were share farming.
    Dad lost his job and Mum had to go back teaching. We got zero $.

    Like

    • Anonymous March 14, 2020 at 2:09 pm #

      The south coast area of Cobargo has been a place of refuge for me and others who want to be safe and independent. We manage by living a simple life, working when we can and often receiving government assistance. Quite a knife edge existence.

      The bushfires have transformed ‘just managing’ to an inability to cope. The physical challenges are huge and the cost of paying for assistance means going without essentials.

      I was asked to provide a list of needs and this is what I came up with:
      a roof over my head, water, a toilet, electricity, phone and internet

      This sounds like a list of needs from someone in a third world country. Perhaps this is ‘the new norm’ I keep hearing about: Australia is a third world country.

      If we have a ‘new norm’ in the environment, why do we not have a ‘new norm’ of response?

      Like

      • Vicki April 18, 2020 at 1:33 pm #

        Sarah, are you able to contact me direct? I’ve been asked for some contact details of people who are homeless in Cobargo as a result of the bushfires. I will give you more details if you can contact me.

        Like

        • Anonymous April 22, 2020 at 6:16 pm #

          Hi Vicki, only just seen your comment, been busy looking for somewhere to live. sarahg.writer@gmail.com love to hear from you

          Like

  3. 3poodles April 4, 2020 at 3:04 pm #

    I’m disgusted how millions was donated, and how it’s suddenly been tied up with bullshit, and……….the charities are laughing all the way to the bank. I will never again donate to any charity, they have syphoned who knows how much for their own betterment, it’s disgusting.

    Like

    • Anonymous April 22, 2020 at 6:38 pm #

      Black Winter

      My house burnt down in the Black Summer bushfires. It’s going to be an even blacker winter for me. For the last 4 months I have been trying to rehouse myself and have failed, there is nowhere to rent. Tomorrow night I’ll be sleeping in the car.

      The house that burnt was a rental so I can’t rebuild. I’ve been given $27,000 dollars by the Red Cross, St Vinnies and the Salvation Army. I’ve also been given a plastic water tank. I’ve been offered places to put a caravan, places that have no electricity, no water and no toilet. But what they do have is winters of -4 degrees.

      The Department of Communities and Justice’s Bushfire Housing Assistance Response Team has been paying for me to stay in a caravan park for the past 2 months, but only at 3 days at a time. Can you imagine trying to rebuild your life, get back to work and find a place to live when you don’t know where you are going to be the next day? Yesterday they rang me at 4 in the afternoon and told me ‘that’s it’. On Wednesday night I’m sleeping in the car.

      Thanks are due to the Australian public who gave money to people in bushfire affected areas. I imagine you gave to help people. Pity it hasn’t worked.

      I’d love to follow the health advice and stay at home, but I don’t have one. I actually have an auto immune disease and am in a high risk category but it’s hard to keep clean and healthy when you live in a car. And it’s not just me there are others too, men and women over 55 living in leaky tents, without running water and toilets or sharing inadequate public amenities and slowly acquiring a mental health disease. Black winter coming up.

      PostScript
      I went to town today (a 61km drive) to talk to the Bushfire team. I filled out 4 forms of at least 3 pages each. I was given a form to be filled out by my doctor and another form to be filled out by my psychologist and told to return with the results in 48 hours. For that they’ve given me another 2 nights in the caravan park. I’ve given up.

      Like

      • Jules Esdaile April 27, 2020 at 3:40 pm #

        Hi. I’m Jules. I’m trying to create small tiny house communities in rural towns as a way of housing people in need. I have developed a model that can happen really quickly, it only needs councils to come to the party and be willing to be a bit flexible. I’d like to help, and I think your story is powerful. If you’d be happy to connect and talk more, please email me. Jules@livesimply.com.au. Mention you’re from Cobargo. Thank you

        Like

  4. Anonymous April 22, 2020 at 6:47 pm #

    But please don’t stop giving to charities, just make a fuss – I can’t do it all on my own!

    Like

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