Construction Starts On First Houses For Australian Bushfire-Affected Families

May 8, 2012

Volunteers From Schools And Companies Help In HFH Victoria’s Yea Project

Students from Melbourne High School (top) helped to build the first house for HFH Victoria’s Yea project (below).

MELBOURNE, 8 May 2012: Habitat for Humanity Victoria, a Habitat affiliate in Australia, has started construction on the first house to be built for families affected by the devastating Black Saturday bushfires, thanks to the help of a group of high school students.

The 20 student volunteers from Melbourne High School worked for four days at a site in Yea Heights, about 117 km. north of the state capital Melbourne.

Since then, other teams from Origin Energy, Melbourne University, Glen Waverley Uniting Church and AGL Energy have volunteered on the first house. The construction tasks included putting up frames, insulation, boundary fencing and retaining walls.

The 25 houses to be built by the Victoria affiliate will be the largest project undertaken by Habitat for Humanity in Australia. Five houses are expected to be finished by June while the remaining 20 are due for completion by mid-2014.

HFH Victoria aims to construct homes, primarily for affected people who wish to remain in the general area but lack the financial and/or physical capacity to rebuild.

Kristen Hanson and her three young children will be among the first five families whose homes are being built in Yea. When the bushfires hit in February 2009, Kristen and her children escaped from their rental home, but were left without a proper home. Kristen and other Habitat home partner families have to put in 500 hours of their own labor, or sweat equity, to help build their own houses.

The bushfires, which swept through parts of Victoria state, claimed over 170 lives and destroyed more than 2,000 homes. Since the disaster, HFH Victoria has been mobilizing volunteers for A Brush with Kindness program to help repair homes. In the aftermath of the bushfires, Habitat also set up Tool Libraries which lent construction tools to affected people to rebuild their homes.