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Bushfire Community Recovery Grants Program commits more than $3.7 million to over 70 projects

16 June 2021 |Appeals

Following the establishment of its Bushfire Community Recovery Grants Program in November 2020, Bendigo Bank’s Bushfire Disaster Appeals - facilitated by the Bank’s charitable arm, Community Enterprise Foundation - have now committed more than $3.7 million in grants to over 70 local projects dedicated to the long-term recovery of communities impacted by the Black Summer bushfires.

To date, just over half of the total $46.9 million raised through the Bank’s Bushfire Disaster Appeals have already been distributed to fire affected communities across Australia.

The Grants Program, created to assist community-focused projects in the bushfire affected regions of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia, has concentrated on funding projects designed to rebuild and strengthen the social fabric of fire devastated communities.

In line with this commitment, funding was prioritised for initiatives which aimed to promote:
• resilience and recovery of individuals
• community connectedness and recovery
• economic restoration
• conservation and re-establishment of the natural environment

One such initiative is the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal’s (FRRR) Investing in Rural Community Futures project.

FRRR strengthens remote, rural and regional communities across Australia by delivering extensive grant programs to help fund community-based, not-for-profit (NFP) projects deemed fundamental to local success.

Bendigo Bank’s New South Wales Bushfire Disaster Appeal has provided a $600,000 Bushfire Community Recovery Grant - $150,000 per year over four years - to FRRR to assist it with the expansion of its Investing in Rural Community Futures program which aims to build, support and strengthen the capacity of local NFPs.

Rather than focusing on rebuilding infrastructure, this program focuses on local organisations and their ability to rebuild and respond to the people they support in fire affected regions. It provides a toolbox of support for NFPs including access to a facilitator, skill development, and external resources to strengthen community networks, and foster social capital through community-led initiatives, such as the development of community roadmaps.

David Impey, Chief Executive Officer, Community Enterprise Foundation, said the organisation had worked hard over the last six months to assess the communities and projects most in need of assistance across impacted regions, and identify the appropriate support measures required to help boost their recovery.

“Our Bushfire Community Recovery Grants Program was launched late last year to provide a community led approach to help meet the evolving needs of groups and organisations situated in fire affected regions across the country, and to further advance the recovery of these communities,” Mr Impey said.

“We understand the recovery process is a marathon, not a sprint and whilst we delivered essential immediate relief and emergency support, our approach to natural disaster recuperation also sees us focussing on the long-term recovery of communities, by sustainably investing in their overall health and economic well-being.

“This multi-million-dollar Grants Program, funded by generous donations to Bendigo Bank’s Bushfire Disaster Appeals, will allow a whole host of important community-based projects to proceed in 2021, which will in turn, further aid long-term, community rehabilitation.”

Two other projects in receipt of significant funding include:

Habitat for Humanity South Australia - Gardens of Hope project
Habitat for Humanity South Australia builds, rehabilitates and repairs homes in sustainable communities with support from homeowner families, volunteers, donors and partner organisations.

In the final week of 2019, the Cudlee Creek bushfire in the Adelaide Hills destroyed 98 homes across the communities of Cudlee Creek, Lobethal, Woodside, Brukunga, Harrogate, Charleston, Lenswood, Gumeracha, Kenton Valley, Montacute, and Mt Torrens. To date, three homes have been re-built with a further 53 under construction.

Bendigo Bank’s South Australia Bushfire Disaster Appeal has provided a $40,000 Bushfire Community Recovery Grant to Habitat for Humanity South Australia to help it fund a project to rebuild and replant the fire-damaged gardens of affected residents to help re-establish a sense of normality for them.

Canungra State School, Canungra, Queensland - Expanded chaplaincy services
Immediately following the locally destructive Black Summer bushfires, Canungra State School experienced a significant spike in the reported levels of anxiety, stress and mental health issues among students and families.

In response, an increased amount of chaplaincy support was required to help those adversely affected. To ensure the continuity of this expanded chaplaincy service over the next two years and to further its ability to assist students and families, Bendigo Bank’s Queensland Bushfire Disaster Appeal has allocated the School a $47,400 Bushfire Community Recovery Grant.

For updates on where and how Appeal donations are assisting the recovery process on the ground and for examples of donations at work in bushfire affected communities, please visit Bendigo Bank’s Disaster recovery page. Bushfire appeal distribution summaries are also available.

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