Assistance package to help rebuild after Chepstowe, Carngham fires

VICTIMS of the fire that ripped through Chepstowe and Carngham less than two weeks ago will soon be able to access low-interest loans, but some say the service provides little comfort.

The loans of up to $200,000 are a joint initiative between the state and federal governments, and will be made available for eligible primary producers and any small businesses and not-for-profit organisations affected by the fire.

Kim and Julie Nunn farmed livestock and grew wheat on their 180ha Carngham property, which was almost completely burnt in the fire.

Mr Nunn said he hoped he wouldn’t need the money.

“It’s all right to say that (you can borrow the money) but you’ve still got to pay things back,” he said.

“You can borrow as much money as you want but you’ve got to pay it back, don’t you. 

“I wouldn’t want to borrow a lot.”

The Nunns are still waiting to learn how much they will receive from their insurance company, but admit they were under-insured.

“When I know what I’m going to get (we will be better),” Mr Nunn said.

“We want to see the exact figures.

“There’s only been ballpark figures so far.”

The loans are offered in addition to the emergency relief and re-establishment assistance announced following the fires. 

Representing Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday, Ballarat MP Catherine King toured the Nunns’ destroyed home with Premier Ted Baillieu.

“It is devastating to see the destructive extent of the fires but it also emphasises the great work done by the CFA, DSE and the communities in general to respond to them,” Ms King said.

“We should also be really grateful that we have the Gypsy Lady stationed at Ballarat Airport to help fight these fires.”

Ms King said she was pleased the two governments could join forces to provide low-interest loans.

But she warned that the fire threat was not over.

“I plead with people throughout the region to stay alert because we still have the hottest month of the year – February – to come,” she said.

People seeking advice about their eligibility for financial assistance under the Victorian Personal Hardship Assistance Program should contact their local council or the Victorian Emergency Recovery Information Line on 1300 799 232.