School year off to a positive start for students affected by 2009 Victorian bushfires

More funds available

Bendigo, 8 Feb 2017: Among the thousands of Victorian students going back to school over the last week are many who experienced the trauma of the 2009 Victorian bushfires.

As the Beyond Bushfires report highlighted last year, more than eight years on, young people affected by the fires have emerged as some of the most vulnerable and at-risk in our communities. While there has been a range of support available to young people since the fires, the needs are complex, long term and potentially intergenerational if not addressed.

Some of the issues that have emerged include developmental delays, gaps in basic competencies, high rates of absenteeism, behavioural problems, fragile mental health, and difficulties arising from unstable home environments.

Thanks to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund (VBAF) and the FRRR School and Beyond grants program, many of those young people are receiving the support they need to remain engaged with learning and prepare for post-secondary education or work.

To date the School and Beyond program has funded more than $240,000 worth of projects, via 11 partner organisations that work with youth in 2009 bushfire affected communities across the state.

FRRR’s Natural Disaster Recovery Programs Manager, Janet Phillips, says the School and Beyond program provides funds to help remove financial and psychological barriers to participation in education, completion of study and pathways to vocational training and employment.

“The needs of these students are incredibly varied, so this program allows those organisations that are closest to the students to develop programs that will address the particular issues each cohort faces,” Ms Phillips explained.

The projects funded to date vary enormously, from engaging counsellors, to building leadership through an adventure-based program, and building self-esteem and confidence.

Details of the latest groups to share $92,000 in funding are listed below.

Applications are currently open from registered partners for new projects, and expressions of interest to become a program partner in areas not covered by current partners are welcome at any time. Details of the School and Beyond program are on the FRRR website –





CIRE Services Inc.

Horticulture Pathway Program – Ecological and Social Sustainability (ECOSS) Yarra Valley
Working with a local nursery, 15 year 10 students from the Yarra Ranges Shire will undertake a Certificate 2 in Horticulture to build resilience and vocational pathways.


CIRE Services Inc.

Youth Program Officer - Ecological and Social Sustainability (ECOSS) Yarra Valley

Employ a part-time Youth Program Officer for 12 months to supervise, mentor and support youth participating in a project to construct a small sustainable building at ECOSS Yarra Valley–Wesburn. Upper Yarra Secondary School, Healesville Secondary School, and VCAL students will attend the program one day per week and be mentored by architects during construction.


Kurnai College

Mental Health and First Aid Training
Fund the training materials to enable Teen Mental Health First Aid training to be offered to 180 Year 10 students and teachers. The training aims to improve mental health literacy; increasing the ability to recognise mental illness; to promote adolescent early help-seeking; and understand treatment of mental health problems of students and staff within Kurnai school communities.


Kurnai College

Boys to the Bush
To build relationships and re-engage students in education, ten year 7 and 8 students will attend a one-week farming camp in rural NSW, which is run by education professionals. The camp involves hands-on skills and team building activities.


Yarram Secondary College

Short Courses Program 2017
Supporting the delivery of five programs focused on building resilience, wellbeing and work-readiness to improve career and vocational pathways for year 7-12 students. The funding will also cover DET required computers that can be loaned out to students experiencing financial difficulties.


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