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Foundation awards grants to help communities razed by 2009 Black Saturday bushfires

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Communities impacted by the February 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires will continue to receive aid, the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) said.

In a statement released to reporters, FRRR announced that it has awarded nearly $725,000 in grants to support 31 projects that will help communities impacted by the February 2009 Black Saturday bushfires 

Supported by the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund (VBAF), these grants are funded through three grant programs – Grants for Resilience & Wellness (GR&W), GR&W Kinglake Ranges and the final round of Community Group Futures (CGF). 

The VBAF funding comes from the generous contributions by the general public following the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009. More than a decade on from Black Saturday, FRRR has awarded more than $4.5 million in grants to local groups through these programs. 

Grants for Resilience & Wellness 

The GR&W program is tailored to support community-led projects that focus on strengthening and building the resilience of those places impacted by the 2009 Victorian bushfires. 

Now in its 9th year, this round of GR&W sees $233,089 in grants awarded to 15 community groups. The funded projects will support and improve the wellbeing, resilience and mental health of community members, help people keep coming together, and help build community capacity and preparedness for future disasters. 

Nina O’Brien, Disaster and Recovery Lead at FRRR, said that this round, there were many communities wanting funding for projects that help people connect and also retain their sense of place and community identity. 

“Many communities reach a stage in their long-term recovery where reconnecting with place, the environment, and community becomes an important part of the healing process,” O’Brien said.  

“Rediscovering and rebuilding these connections can happen in many different and meaningful ways, and this round of GR&W is a perfect example of that,” she said.  

O’Brien said that communities used the funds in different ways. For some communities, it involves improving community meeting places and venues for activities.  

Others are using arts and cultural projects to both increase community connectedness and grow community identity and awareness of local history. Meanwhile, other places are helping their community to connect through events and activities like concerts and walking trails. 

Community Group Futures 

The CGF program focuses on not-for-profit groups in communities impacted by Black Saturday. It was designed to provide them with the tools to create strong and lasting improvements within their organisation. This is the final round of the CGF program, with $898,237 granted across ten rounds. 

Some $29,483 has been awarded to two projects to support the Yackandandah Fire Station and the Stanley Athenaeum and Public Room. The funds will increase their capacity through the purchase of equipment and by funding professional administrative support. 

O’Brien said that more than a decade on, these community organisations continue to experience operational and service delivery challenges due to the 2009 bushfires. 

“For these community groups, they have had to face the challenge of managing their own recovery while also continuing to provide support and services the people in their communities. The CGF program has supported these organisations to look ahead to the future and implement longer term climate resilience initiatives that will help them achieve their aspirations,” O’Brien said.  

“The CGF grants have helped strengthen and sustain these community groups so that they can continue to do what they do best and support their community,” she said.  

Grants for Resilience & Wellness Kinglake Ranges 

Meanwhile, the GR&W Kinglake Ranges program gives community groups and local not-for-profit organisations in the Kinglake Ranges the opportunity to work together and increase local capacity to get initiatives off the ground. This round, $461,993 has been awarded to 14 projects in the region. 

The next rounds of GR&W and GR&W Kinglake Ranges open early March 2021 and close April 2021. Applications for the GR&W Kinglake Ranges program are now invited from all community groups in the wider Kinglake Ranges, not just those that participated in the initial consultation process in 2017. 

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