Funds still available to support recovery from 2009 Victorian bushfires

The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) has opened another round of funding for communities impacted by the 2009 Victorian Bushfires. The Australian public generously donated to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund in the immediate aftermath of the fires, and these funds continue to support community-led recovery from the catastrophic event.

Eucalypt regrowth

To date, more than $2.6 million has been awarded across 206 projects in communities impacted by the Black Saturday bushfires. The projects have supported a wide range of community recovery needs and priorities, including youth and early years’ engagement and support, mental health and wellbeing, arts programs and events, community infrastructure, environmental recovery, and community disaster preparedness.

This round will also be able to support any commemorative activities that any community organisations in the impacted areas that wish to undertake around the 10-year anniversary of the Black Saturday bushfires in February 2019.

There are two programs currently accepting applications:

1.       Grants for Resilience and Wellness (GR&W) - provides assistance for community-strengthening and resilience-building projects; and

2.       Community Group Futures (CGF) - helps not-for-profit organisations to think beyond day to day operations and look ahead to ensure they can meet ongoing community needs.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, explains that the fires changed the lives of families and whole communities forever.

“The impact of a natural disaster affects communities and people in many different ways, but the common factor is that recovery takes time. The aftermath of the fires continues to be felt more than nine years on.

“The two grant programs are purposefully flexible to meet the evolving needs of the fire-affected communities.

“GR&W is designed to support communities and individuals, helping them to connect and stay healthy and be resilient.”

For example, the Healthy And Resilient Together (HART) Project, run by Beechworth Health Service, used a GR&W grant for community education and participation to develop strategies that foster resilience and preparedness for adverse circumstances and disasters among school children, parents and staff for primary schools and early childhood services in Yackandandah, Kiewa, Tangambalanga, Osborne’s Flat, Allan’s Flat and districts.

Ms Egleton says that FRRR recognises that recovery puts different pressures on local organisations and volunteers.

“Groups are now looking for support to determine their ongoing role, build local capacity, manage volunteer fatigue, or enhancing local facilities,” said Ms Egleton. “That’s where the Community Group Futures program can help.”

One of the first recipients of the Community Group Futures grant program, the Mudgegonga Hall Reserve Committee Inc., was able to upgrade the unreliable power supply that had made the Hall inadequate for community activities. Mudgegonga Hall can now provide the community with access to a fully functional meeting place for social activities, events, training and disaster coordination if needed. Applications for both GR&W and CGF close at 5 pm AEDT on Monday 17th September 2018.

Potential applicants should visit the FRRR website – www.frrr.org.au – and review the guidelines and application form carefully.

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