Melissa Churchman, Wildlife Farm Owner, Bairnsdale

It took about three days before I could actually face coming back. Even imagining it doesn’t prepare you for the extent of what you’ve lost when you’ve lost absolutely everything. As a result of the fires we’ve not only lost home and infrastructure, and all our shedding and all of our farm machinery, farm vehicles but we’ve lost our business. It’s not about the value of things, it’s just your life. It’s the stuff that defined you and your family and it’s not there anymore.

Pretty much straight away Westpac, they were right there. Our lovely person Jenni (Emonson, Westpac Bank Manager) has looked after us from day 1… Out of the blue I get a call from her a few days later and there was a business grant…That $15,000 has really enabled us to just breathe and know that bills won’t go unpaid. You tend to think that the big corporations will just keep rolling on and will not necessarily be interested in a small time business operator like us but that’s definitely not the case. It’s definitely a community enterprise and Westpac have been fabulous. The bank has actually been our friend and we’re very grateful for that..”