Media Release

Lakes Entrance Cleaned Up Thanks to Employment Program

The Drought and Bushfire Employment Program is an initiative led by the East Gippsland, West Gippsland and North East Catchment Management Authorities in partnership with Envite (a subsidiary of Workways Australia).

The program provides temporary, flexible employment opportunities to individuals whose primary income has been impacted by drought and/or bushfires in Gippsland and is part of the Victorian Government’s response package for communities that have suffered financial hardship as a result of these disasters.

Julie-Anne O’Neill is the NRM Drought Relief Field Supervisor with Envite Environment and has been supervising the crews each day, as they worked onsite at Gippsland Lakes Complete Health (GLCH) in Lakes Entrance, over a two-week period.

“These crews were focusing on the gardening maintenance of GLCH’s properties around Jemmeson Street and Heatherlea Grove,” Ms O’Neill explained. “Safety and aesthetics are important to all members of the community for many reasons, so it was a pleasure for us to complete these tasks that will be beneficial for all, especially in consideration of the impact and pressures that COVID-19 have caused to those working in the medical profession.”

“Julie-Anne and her team have done a sensational job,” said Sue Medson OAM, GLCH’s Chief Executive Officer. ”It’s been great to have them onsite for these two weeks. They accomplished so much in such a short time – it’s very impressive.”

The Drought and Bushfire Employment Program was created to allow participants to have flexible employment whilst maintaining existing work/farming commitments.

“It’s typical for crew numbers to vary on any given day – sometimes there’s five to eight people onsite, sometimes three to four – but logistics can always be juggled,” Ms O’Neill said.

Frank Davies is a dairy farmer from Wairewa, an area that was substantially damaged during recent bushfires following a prolonged period of drought. He has seen many benefits from his participation in the program. “(From a financial perspective) we’ve been able to supplement a diminished family income, and have some work stability.

“We’re also able to mingle and socialise with people in similar circumstances who understand what each other is going through. It’s important to talk through the tough times with other people and know you’re not alone.

“There’s also a sense of pride knowing that we’re doing work that the whole community can benefit from.”

The Drought and Bushfire Employment Program is open to any East Gippsland or Wellington Shire residents, who can demonstrate that their usual income has been affected by the current drought and/or recent bushfires in Gippsland. This may include farmers, farm workers, farm contractors, suppliers and employees in related industries, or individuals whose normal employment has been minimised or severely impacted by bushfires. Click Here to obtain an Expression of Interest form.