Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Black Saturday funding available for community-led initiatives

Twelve years on from the devastating 2009 Victorian bushfires, FRRR is offering another round of funding to support impacted communities as they continue to rebuild, reconnect and recover.

Black Saturday funding available for community-led initiatives
Whittlesea Community Garden

Supported by the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund (VBAF), the funding is available through FRRR’s Grants for Resilience & Wellness (GR&W) program and the Grants for Resilience & Wellness Kinglake Ranges (GR&W Kinglake) program. The grants of up to $20,000 will support not-for-profits and community-based organisations to lead projects that aid recovery and build community resilience.

The GR&W and GR&W Kinglake Ranges programs fund initiatives that:

  • Improve mental health and wellbeing of communities and individuals;
  • Enhance wellbeing and resilience of pre-school, primary and secondary school-aged children and young people;
  • Strengthen community connections, sense of place and community identity; and
  • Increase the community’s ability to prepare for future disasters.

To date, FRRR has awarded more than $4.5 million in grants to local groups, thanks to VBAF funding, which comes from the generous contributions by the general public following the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009. Through this round of funding there is a total of $360,000 available for GR&W grants and a total of more than $700,000 available for GR&W Kinglake projects.

Nina O’Brien, FRRR’s Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lead, said that the impact of COVID-19 has increased the need to support recovering communities to reconnect socially and continue to enhance their wellbeing.

“Despite the restrictions that the pandemic has put on people coming together, local groups report services and activities that enhance wellness and resilience are still well attended. One program funded twice previously by FRRR, the Be Well in the Ranges program, has been fully booked out, and the Yinnar Memorial Hall exercise group continues to attract 30-40 participants each week,” Ms O’Brien said.

“The GR&W programs provide flexible support to respond to issues as they emerge. More than a decade since the fires, communities are focusing on building resilience for the future,” Ms O’Brien explained.

Applications for both GR&W and GR&W Kinglake close at 5pm AEDT, Wednesday 21 April 2021.

Potential applicants should visit the GR&W and GR&W Kinglake webpages and review the guidelines before applying.

The town of Strathewen located in the north-west of Victoria was one of the many communities impacted by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, the aftermath of which left a huge impression on the local community. There is no quick fix solution for a community when it comes to recovering from a natural disaster, and after nine years, Strathewen is still in the process of doing so.

The team at Arthurs Creek Strathewen CFA noticed that students at the local primary school were suffering post-traumatic stress after Black Saturday. Parents had been reporting that their children had been experiencing high levels of anxiety and panic attacks. This prompted the CFA to develop what is now the Strathewen Primary School Fire Awareness Program. The program is designed to support local students and help build their confidence around fire safety and preparedness.

To support this initiative, the CFA was given a $15,730 grant from the Grants for Resilience and Wellness program funded by Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund. The program was held weekly. Students were given the opportunity to discuss fire safety plans, evacuation strategies, and fire danger ratings. This positive learning experience equipped the students with the ability to teach others and to take their knowledge into their adult years concerning bush and fire safety.

At the end of the program, a picture story book was created that participants of the program could take home and share with their families. A behind the scenes making of the book was also produced with the help of the Strathewen Bushfire Relief Trust. Parents reported after the Fire Awareness Program, their children’s confidence levels improved significantly and that anxiety levels decreased.

This built on a previous program run by the Strathewen CFA for kids in the community. The previous project funded, called ‘Survive and Thrive’ allowed the children at the school to make a Claymation video about fire safety and fire danger ratings. It was an invaluable way to teach the kids about how to stay safe in a fire, and to understand what the fire danger ratings mean, and the project won the ‘2017 Resilient Australia’ award for Victoria, in the education division.

Recovery from bushfires is an ongoing process but grants like these provide opportunities for communities to heal.