Grants help create sanctuaries for fire-affected youth

Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Media releases: 9 July 2020

9 July 2020: Sony Foundation Australia, together with the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR), have today announced two grants that will help young people affected by last summer’s bushfires.

The funding comes from the $200,000 donation that Sony Foundation Australia made to FRRR during the landmark Fire Fight Australia concert, held in Sydney in February.

The grants will support youth in Mallacoota, in Victoria’s Gippsland, and in Ulladulla, on the NSW South Coast, by helping them to establish a safe space where they can come together to share their experiences, support one another, and generally enhance their wellbeing and recovery from the bushfires.

Mallacoota Youth Group will use their $100,000 grant to fund the activities and operations of an emerging youth centre called The Sanctuary. This project will contribute to building the capacity, resilience, and wellbeing of the young people in Mallacoota. Led by the young people themselves, The Sanctuary will provide pathways for young people to access mentoring, social networks and resources in the community. The youth-led organisation has strong community support. It’s expected Mallacoota’s youth will use the space to study, play music, make art, play games, organise programs and events and run workshops.

The second project, which is led by the Ulladulla High School, will use a $80,000 grant to establish a Sanctuary of Wellbeing and Renewal, which will benefit the 1,200-strong student population, and their families. Sanctuary of Wellbeing and Renewal will provide a safe environment for positive initiatives that enhance student wellbeing to enable positive recovery and resilience.

Sophie Ryan, CEO of Sony Foundation Australia, said there are going to be many long-term effects caused by the bushfires that young Australians will be coping with for some time to come.

“About 1 in 4 young people can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder following a major crisis like the recent bushfires and sadly, in the midst of recovery, the specific needs of young people can be overlooked. At Sony Foundation, we are helping to fill this gap by funding programs which will improve the wellbeing of young people, helping them recover and heal.

“We are honoured to be able to partner with FRRR to support these two projects, both of which will create safe places where young people can engage in activities and encourage social networks to help heal and forge a positive path forward,” Ms Ryan said.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that there were many fabulous project ideas put forward, and reflects the devastating impact of the recent bushfires on young people, which has been exacerbated by the onset of COVID-19.

“It’s clear that young people are feeling the cumulative effects of disasters particularly deeply, as we had many really strong proposals to consider. These two grants will help put local youth in Mallacoota and Ulladulla more in control of their recovery and have access to the additional services they need. We are pleased to have been able to help Sony Foundation Australia get this funding to two communities where it will make a real difference,” Ms Egleton said.

Both FRRR and Sony Foundation Australia will continue to invest in the ongoing recovery of communities. To date, FRRR has distributed more than $1.5M in bushfire recovery, with applications currently open for further bushfire recovery grants.