FRRR's bushfire response
Bendigo, 7 January 2020: As you will know, significant parts of rural and regional Australia are facing one of the most catastrophic bushfire seasons in our history. The duration, intensity, and destruction caused by these fires is unprecedented, yet not unexpected. To date, more than 1,700 homes have been lost, 25 lives lost, 8million hectares burnt, and over 100,000 livestock and millions of native and endangered wildlife have perished.
At FRRR, our hearts and minds have been with impacted communities as the bushfires have spread and I do hope that you are receiving this email with you and your loved ones in safety.
I am writing as I have had several people ask what FRRR is doing to support affected communities, how you can help, and to ask our recommendations on other organisations that are doing important work in immediate relief and recovery efforts, which I have set out below.
However, our single encouragement to you is to consider how your donations and support can have an impact beyond the headlines and can give communities control and determination over their own recovery.
What FRRR is doing and how you can help
FRRR has a long history of supporting disaster affected communities to recover and build their resilience to future disasters, having provided more than $19m to locally-led recovery and preparedness initiatives since 2006.
From our experience, FRRR knows that recovery takes time, and affected communities will need support for many years to come. (For example FRRR is still supporting communities affected by the 2009 Victorian bushfires).
Over time, community needs emerge and evolve - from the immediacy of emergency relief (food, water, shelter, and medicines), to early recovery (temporary accommodation, children return to school, adaptation to a ‘new normal’) to medium-to-long-term recovery (rebuilding of permanent physical structures begins, children return to school buildings, adults have renewed opportunities to improve their livelihoods and local economies begin to recover, although there is significant change).
The impacts of the fires will not be the same in any two communities, so it's critical that when the time is right, local leaders can access funds for whatever is most important to their community.
FRRR has active relationships in most of the impacted communities in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia. While we are still assessing the scale and impact, we do know that:
- In the 46 impacted NSW LGAs, FRRR has 142 active grants
- In the 6 impacted Victorian LGA’s, FRRR has 41 active grants
- We have 1 active grant in each of Kangaroo Island, Tasmania, and WA.
We will support these towns to continue to use this grant funding and will offer extensions and variations as required.
Beyond these current grants, FRRR will support the immediate, medium and long term recovery of communities impacted by the current bushfires through the following:
1. Disaster Resilience & Recovery Fund
The Disaster Resilience & Recovery Fund was launched in September 2019 as a perpetual fund that will distribute earnings to disaster recovery initiatives, ensuring that every donation continues to have impact for years to come. Donations to the Disaster Recovery & Resilience Fund will be invested, and the returns used to ensure funds are available for community-led initiatives when disaster-affected communities are ready for support.
Pooling and investing these funds means that one donation can have an impact for years to come.
Grants from FRRR's Disaster Resilience and Recovery Fund will support the needs that typically emerge 12-18 months after a disaster event – such as support for fatigued volunteer leaders, repairing vital community infrastructure, restoring community connections or ensuring mental health support is available.
Currently, donations made to the Disaster Resilience and Recovery Fund are being generously matched by Wilson Asset Management up to a total of $500,000, seeking to raise a combined $1 million into the Fund.
2. Special stream of FRRR’s Strengthening Rural Communities program
FRRR will provide support through its flexible Strengthening Rural Communities program for communities that identify more immediate needs and for donors wishing for their funds to be used in full in the medium term recovery. That program can fund a wide range of projects, such as enhancing a local emergency shelter, implementing a UHF radio system so that people can stay in touch during the next emergency, efforts to relieve volunteer fatigue or running a campaign to attract people back to the area. It is offered on an open basis and applications are assessed quarterly. It is expected that grants will commence in the second half of 2020 at the earliest however FRRR will monitor needs over the coming months.
3. Back to School program
FRRR will provide additional Back to School vouchers to support impacted children and families to have the uniform and stationery supplies needed for their schooling. As the current relief efforts are still very much under way, we will offer this additional support via a bushfire relief round, which will be distributed by May 2020.
We welcome support to any of these programs through our website, and would be more than happy to speak with you about specific areas you wish to support. To those of you who have already made a donation – thank you.
Other organisations we recommend for immediate relief and recovery
- Blaze Aid
Community Foundations in affected areas including:
NSW AND ACT
- Mumbulla Foundation
- Community Foundation for the Tumut Region
- Southern Highlands CF
- Sydney CF
- Northern Rivers CF
- Lake Macquarie Foundation
- Hands Across Canberra
- Eyre Peninsula CF
- Fleurieu Community Foundation
- Border Trust
- Upper Murray Innovation Fund
- Mirboo North and District CF
- Into Our Hands CF
There are many, many other causes doing good work out there.
FRRR will be sharing insights about effective recovery over the coming weeks and months, and I invite you to call on us for advice if needed.
Chief Executive Officer