• Tony Bosworth

Extra time to apply for bushfire grants

The Federal Government has extended the deadline to apply for bushfire grants following pleas from community organisations and pressure from Macquarie MP Susan Templeman.

The September 2 deadline has been moved a month to October 6.

Ms Templeman told the Post on Wednesday she requested Minister Bridget McKenzie extend the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants program deadline earlier this month, due to the effect the current COVID lockdown was having on local groups’ ability to respond.

Senator McKenzie, the Minister for Emergency Management and National Recovery and Resilience, said today – Thursday - extending the application period by the extra month would enable communities impacted by the 2019‑20 Black Summer bushfires to recover and rebuild.

“We have listened to extensive feedback from the impacted communities, and are providing them with this extension to put forward their best ideas and projects that will meet local needs,” Minister McKenzie said.

“We’re pleased to have committed $2.8 billion of Commonwealth support towards the recovery from the devastating 2019‑20 Black Summer bushfires, with $2.4 billion already spent to get people back on their feet.”

Ms Templeman said she had been contacted by a number of community organisations and service providers in the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains that wanted to apply for funding, but didn’t have the time or capacity to put together a detailed grant proposal in the middle of the hard lockdown we all find ourselves in.

“Community organisations in Macquarie have faced a relentless, sustained effort since 2019, and this lockdown has only compounded the situation,” said Ms Templeman.

“There was the Gospers Mountain fire that started the Black Summer bushfires in September of 2019, then a summer of intense firefighting on several fronts; to floods, storms and landslides in early

MP Templeman at Parliament House recently

2020, the first wave of COVID19 lockdowns, more flooding in the Hawkesbury, and now the second COVID19 crisis. These community organisations just haven’t stopped.

“Put simply, these are the very organisations who have been on the frontline helping disadvantaged families and supporting traumatised communities through these successive crises for two straight years.

“Several of these organisations have decades of experience in community support, and would use their experience and knowledge to tailor excellent proposals for funding programs that are targeted to what is really needed and would lead to the greatest benefit.

“They really needed an extension of time to put together detailed proposals for such a key area of funding.

“I was very pleased the Minister heeded my call for an extension of the deadline to allow them more time to put together their plans.”

Liberal Senator for Western Sydney, Marise Payne, also encouraged the Hawkesbury community to consider making a grant application.

“Building on the foundations of the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund, this grants program is yet another valuable opportunity for our community to identify and invest in further priority recovery and resilience projects,” Sen Payne said.

Sen Marise Payne at a recent event

Coordinator-General for the National Recovery and Resilience Agency, Shane L Stone AC QC, said the new closing date bought people much-needed time.

“Many Australians are facing a major disruption to their lives due to COVID-19 and a lot of the communities impacted by the Black Summer Bushfires are now in lockdown. It’s understandable that filling out a grant application may not have been someone’s highest priority.

“It made sense to shift the closing date to give them a bit more time. We want people to have the time to think of projects that will bring the greatest benefit to their communities, and to get as much information and support as they can before pulling their applications together,” Mr Stone said.

The NRRA is continuing to support people in a range of ways to prepare their applications, for example online workshops are still available, as well as short videos and answers to Frequently Asked Questions on the NRRA website.

Organisations wishing to put together an application should head to https://recovery.gov.au/black-summer-grants for further information.

Main picture, courtesy of Jochen Spencer

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