As part of the Victorian Government's $750 million Powerline Bushfire Safety Program (PBSP), $40 million was allocated to fund back-up diesel generators in residential care facilities across regional and rural Victoria. Eligible residential care facilities included aged care, supported residential services, disability, mental health, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities.
The Local Infrastructure Assistance Fund (LIAF) is helping to minimise the impact of power outages, arising from temporary changes made to the electricity network on days of high fire risk. This is particularly important for care facilities where residents are critically reliant on power for their health and wellbeing.
The funding was delivered through a staged process and was available to non-government owned, and Government owned residential care facilities who met the eligibility criteria. Facilities that met the criteria received funding to cover the costs of purchasing and installing a back-up diesel generator fit for their needs.
The LIAF is now closed. The program has installed back-up generators at 343 residential care facilities, protecting approximately 16,000 vulnerable Victorians across rural and regional Victoria.
The formal criteria set for the funding program was:
Primary Criteria - must have met all primary criteria
- A residential care facility located in the approved LGA's for the current stage.
- Accredited or authorised to provide residential care services to vulnerable individuals with needs arising from physical, sensory, learning or cognitive disabilities, impairments, age-related conditions or from mental health difficulties. Please see Part 2.1A in the Applicant Guidelines for further details on this primary eligibility criterion.
- Do not already have back-up power supplies adequate to sustain services for longer than 2 hours and do not have sufficient funds allocated to procure adequate back-up generation at the facility.
- A financially solvent and viable facility as determined by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DEDLWP)
- A permanent facility (freehold title or long-term lease) with no plans of sufficient certainty as determined by DELWP for closure or to cease operating as a residential care facility in the next 5 years.
- Be a facility with 10 or more beds on the property or if less than 10 beds, meet one or more of the secondary criteria below.
Secondary Criteria (for facilities less than 10 beds) - must have met one or more secondary criteria
- Life will be threatened if there is a power outage. For example, one or more residents are dependent on respirators or other breathing apparatus.
- Significant health problems will be exacerbated if there is a power outage. For example, neurological conditions where the body reacts to heat and lacks ability to regulate temperature.
- There will be an inability to carry out vital personal care or domestic routines if there is a power outage. For example, residents require a minimum of two pieces of power operated equipment such as an electric hoist, electric wheelchair.
- Vital involvement in support/ care provision cannot be sustained if there is a power outage. For example, electric enteral feeding via pumps.
- A serious risk of harm to self or others exists. For example, behaviours of concern due to the impact of heat and lack of ability to keep the residential care facility cool.
The Local Infrastructure Assistance Fund (LIAF) was a $40 million program designed to minimise the impact of power outages, arising from temporary changes made to the electricity network on days of high fire risk. These changes to the network settings on days of high fire risk are part of the Powerline Bushfire Safety Program (PBSP), and will reduce the likelihood of electricity distribution assets starting bushfires.
The $40 million LIAF was used to fund back-up diesel generators in residential care facilities throughout regional and rural Victoria including aged care, supported residential services, disability, mental health, and alcohol and drug rehabilitation facilities, where residents are critically reliant on power for their health and wellbeing. The PBSP is part of the Victorian Government's response to the findings of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission and the recommendations from the subsequent Powerline Bushfire Safety Taskforce.
The $40 million funding program was delivered through a staged process, and was available to non-government owned (NGO), public and privately owned residential care facilities who meet the eligibility criteria. The program was rolled out by Local Government Area (LGAs).
Eligible facilities located in parts of the State that are affected by the PBSP. In particular, these areas are most likely to be affected by changes to Automatic Circuit Recloser (ACR) settings that are made to reduce the risk of bushfire.
On Total Fire Ban and Code Red days, ACRs on powerlines in areas of highest bushfire risk are adjusted to minimise the risk of a fire starting after a fault. While these safety measures have a clear and significant benefit for the broader Victorian community, setting changes may increase the duration of local power outages in the event a fault occurs. The LIAF program funded back-up diesel generators in residential care facilities to minimise the impact to residents should power failure occur.
In Stage 1 and 2A of the program, eligible facilities in the LGAs of Greater Bendigo, Mitchell, Murrindindi, Horsham, were targeted. These LGAs were targeted based on the number of Total Fire Ban and Code Red days these LGAs experience each year and the impact of network setting changes on power reliability.
Stage 2B extended the program to facilities in the LGAs of Macedon Ranges, Pyrenees and Hepburn. These LGAs also experience a high number of Total Fire Ban and Code Red days and are impacted by network safety equipment charges.
Stage 2C opened the program to facilities in the LGAs of Loddon, Central Goldfields, Mount Alexander, Colac-Otway, Moorabool, Surf Coast, Golden Plains, Yarra Ranges, Nillumbik, Cardinia, Whittlesea (town of Whittlesea only) and Ballarat.
Stage 3 opened the program to facilities in the LGAs of Alpine, Benalla, Indigo, Mansfield, Towong, Wangaratta, Wodonga, Baw Baw, Latrobe, South Gippsland and Wellington.
Stage 4A included facilities in the LGAs of East Gippsland, Campaspe, Greater Shepparton, Moira, Strathbogie, Ararat, Corangamite, Glenelg, Moyne, Southern Grampians, Warrnambool and Greater Bendigo.
Stage 4 B and C also included disability facilities across the eligible 55 LGAs.
Stage 5 targeted facilities in the LGAs of Hindmarsh, Horsham, Northern Grampians, West Wimmera, Yarriambiack, Bass Coast, Mornington Peninsula, Buloke, Gannawarra, Mildura, Knox (partial: 3154 and 3156 postcodes only), Casey (partial: 3802, 3803, 3804 and 3805 postcodes only), Hume (partial 3429 postcode only) and Greater Geelong (partial 3221, 3222, 3223, 3224, 3225, 3226 and 3227 postcodes only).
Stage 6 was the final stage of the LIAF program and targeted facilities across all the eligible 55 LGAs.
No, metropolitan areas are not subject to network setting changes under the PBSP to mitigate bushfire risk, and therefore were not be eligible for LIAF grants.
No, individuals were not eligible for funding. The State Government undertook research to determine the best way to deliver the most effective program outcomes. It was decided funds should be directed where they can do the most good for the greatest number of Victorians reliant on a power supply for their health and wellbeing. For this reason, it was decided back-up diesel generators would be provided to residential care facilities that care for the aged, people with disability, mental illness, or for drug and alcohol rehabilitation services.
Yes, local electricians and generator supply businesses were involved in selling and installing LIAF generators.