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Bega Valley Bushfire funding update

Photo: General Manager, Leanne Barnes at work.

Photo: General Manager, Leanne Barnes at work

Monday, 25 May 2020

In these days of bushfire recovery its easy to be overwhelmed by the level government and non-government funding and assistance for our community at this time. One natural reaction is to simply shutdown to the news and information flow.

“At the same time, there is a level of scrutiny and questions people have and it’s important that we make it as easy as possible for our community to understand where things are at and provide that information,” Leanne Barnes, General Manager said.

Council has received $1.3 million from the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangement with the Commonwealth and NSW governments.

75% of those funds have been spent largely on:

  • Infrastructure to support impacted communities (toilets, showers, washing machines etc)
  • Bushfire Recovery Centre support
  • Support and training for Council staff to work in the recovery area
  • Blaze Aid camps support
  • Proportion of the allocation for extra staffing – planning and rebuilding, recovery, spread into next year
  • Gap between DRFA/Section 44 funding and actual expenditure

On top of those funds, Council, on behalf of the community has received bushfire funding for economic development activities, works at the Central Waste Facility, the clean up at Wandella and Kiah Halls, more caseworkers for the Bega Valley Recovery Support Service, stabilisation works in impacted coastal estuaries from Wallaga to Towamba to Wonboyn, and fee assistance for families accessing children’s services.

These funds collectively are in excess of $2 million which has been allocated and is underway to be delivered.

“Council staff have moved quickly and responsively to the need they see in their community,” Ms Barnes said.

“The new bathroom and laundry facilities at Wyndham sporting ground are a good example of how Council has responded to community need. Restoring access to properties and clearing our road network is another good example.

“These works met an urgent need to support members of the community who had lost their homes or suffered major damage in the fires. Funds have also been directed to tasks and operations council had to deploy during the heat of our response to the emergency and subsequent recovery.

“Council will continue to listen to and work with the community, led by their needs. Empowering community to shape their own recovery is a key driver for our work,” Ms Barnes said.

Direct funding to community members, businesses and primary producers has also been rolling out from State and Federal Governments directly. Side by side with support provided by charities and philanthropist big and small including the Minderoo Foundation, Red Cross, Rural Aid, the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast and many more.

“It is truly a mammoth effort by all but there is still a long way to go. I am in awe of the level of commitment and support by so many,” Ms Barnes said.

Council has also waived fees and costs for a whole range of services and activities in order to support the recovery process and assist people in financial hardship, those measures add up to around $300,000.

“It’s an area that we will to be responsive to into the future as people move through the different stages of recovery,” Ms Barnes said.

“This emergency situation falls outside of and on top of Council’s normal service load to the community. We have been able to sustain this work for a period of time through our own reserves but to remain sustainable further assistance from the State and Commonwealth governments is critical.

“People right around the Bega Valley are under pressure right now, and I want to acknowledge the patience and character they continue to show. Council will continue to anticipate, advocate and meet need.”

People can reach the Bega Valley Recovery Support Service on 6499 2345 or email – recovery@begavalley.nsw,gov.au. The community can also check Council’s website and Facebook page for updated news and information and subscribe to Council’s weekly recovery eNewsletter.

END

 


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