Dialog Box

CatholicCare Victoria

Bushfire Community Recovery Service

Long-term mental health and wellbeing support for families in East Gippsland.

Disaster recovery is a long process.

We know that families in East Gippsland have seen unspeakable devastation - their homes have been ravaged, their schools have been destroyed, and their communities have been scattered by evacuations.

We’re here to offer the long-term support, care and hope families need as they begin rebuilding their lives.


Family wellbeing and community development

In partnership with the Archdiocese of Melbourne and the Diocese of Sale, CatholicCare is reinstating our Bushfire Community Recovery Service to provide support for the children, youth and families of East Gippsland.

CatholicCare’s role will begin when the immediate crisis is over and the emergency response teams have left. We are committed to providing assistance to affected families and communities in the coming years.

We will be providing:

  • professional counsellors to deliver trauma-informed counselling to individuals and families.
  • school counsellors in each of the Catholic primary and secondary schools within the East Gippsland region, to offer psychological support to students and teachers.
  • community development projects to promote and solidify community connections and resilience.
  • chaplains to offer spiritual support and pastoral care to those in need.

How can counselling and chaplaincy help? 

Talking to a counsellor or chaplain can help you and your family make sense of the trauma, loss and grief experienced as a result from the bushfires. 

Relationship strain and breakdown can also come as a result from this trauma and loss - counselling can help to rebuild strong, positive relationships and help you work through the tough times together.

Our qualified counsellors and can work with children, teenagers, adults, families and couples. We also have counsellors of different cultural backgrounds, genders and religions, so that you can find the right support for you.

Some more specific issues counselling can help with include:

  • addictive behaviours
  • anger management
  • anxiety, stress or depression
  • caring for others
  • change
  • children and teenagers
  • family violence and conflict
  • separation and divorce
  • loss and grief
  • mental health
  • relationships and family
  • school refusal
  • trauma


The benefits of the Bushfire Community Recovery Service

The communities affected by the New Year’s bushfires are closely knit, and know what will best help them to restore fellowship and community.

The Bushfire Community Recovery Service will be responsive to these needs, delivering help where the community decides they need it most.

We also know that schools are a central hub for communities, so they will be an important part of the recovery process.

Through a partnership with Catholic Education Sale, we will be providing chaplaincy and counselling to students, teachers and the broader school community to ensure young people’s spiritual and emotional needs are fulfilled.

CatholicCare is skilled and experienced in supporting bushfire recovery.

Following the Black Saturday fires of 2009, CatholicCare established the Bushfire Community Recovery Service; a three-year effort to bring counselling, community rebuilding activities and pastoral care to the affected families of the Shire of Murrindindi. Read the Beyond Black Saturday report here.

Our work is also enhanced by 85 years of experience supporting families and communities in Victoria.

“CatholicCare was the only organisation that came and asked the community what they wanted, then went about trying to meet that need even if it meant going beyond their core business.”

Bill Gale

Former chair, Community Representative Committee, Kinglake Ranges (June 2012)


Counselling is confidential

All counselling sessions are confidential, and your personal information will not be disclosed without your consent (except when counsellors are required to by law – for example, to protect you or someone you know from harm). 

If you desire, your family or loved ones can participate in a counselling session with you to work through issues or discuss support. 

You do not need a referral from a GP to access our counselling, and we can cater the number of counselling sessions to your individual needs.


Bushfire Community Recovery Services are free.

More information

The Bushfire Community Recovery Service is proudly supported by Catholic Emergency Relief Australia (CERA); Archdiocese of Melbourne and Diocese of Sale parishioners; Melbourne Catholic Archbishop's Charitable Fund; Frank and Helen Swan; Coast to Country 4x4; and Dwyer's Toyota.

Want to support the Bushfire Community Recovery Service?
Give East Gippsland families and communities the support they need to rebuild their lives.


Contact us

For more information on the Bushfire Community Recovery Service and how we can support you, your family or your community, please contact us:

T: 1800 522 076

We offer support in Bairnsdale, Lakes Entrance, Pakenham, Traralgon and Warragul with outreach to other remote areas.


Other services

You might also be interested in some of the following services offered at CatholicCare: