Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

28 August 2020: The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) has received support from the US-based Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) to assist in addressing the medium to long-term recovery needs of bushfire affected communities across rural, regional and remote Australia.

bushfire recovery

CDP’s mission is to leverage the power of philanthropy to mobilize a full range of resources that strengthen the ability of communities to withstand disasters and recover equitably when they occur.

The US$500,000 grant will be distributed over the next three years through a stream of FRRR’s Strengthening Rural Communities (SRC) program dedicated to bushfire recovery.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that like FRRR, CDP knows just how important it is for funding and support to be available in the years following a disaster, not just in the immediate aftermath.

“CDP is a thought-leader when it comes to the role that philanthropy can play in disaster preparedness and recovery. Their experiences and insights following catastrophic events in the US, including Cyclone Katrina, have helped inform and validate FRRR’s approach to disaster recovery.

“Their experience confirms that every place’s needs are different, communities recover at different speeds and recovery needs evolve over time. We know this too from our experience in supporting the Victorian communities affected by the 2009 bushfires. Given the extent of the impacts of last summer’s bushfires, recovery will take a decade, if not more.

“This generous donation from CDP will ensure that we can provide the critical support needed, when it’s needed in the years to come to ensure these communities have what they need for their recovery,” said Ms Egleton.

Brennan Banks, director of Disaster Recovery Funds at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, says that typically almost two-thirds of philanthropic disaster donations are directed towards the immediate disaster response and relief.

“From our extensive experience over the last 10 years, we know that funding for long-term recovery and disaster preparedness is frequently scarce.

“We are therefore pleased to provide FRRR with flexible support to serve affected communities over the medium to long term. It is important for these communities to have resources to rebuild and recover from bushfires,” said Banks. “The funding can also be used to enhance preparedness efforts, which are just as important.”

30 June 2020: Thanks to support from our donor partners, the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) has awarded two more grants to support communities in their recovery from the 2019/20 Summer bushfires.

Byron Bay

The Orara Valley Progress Association and the Blue Mountains Community Resource Network (BMCRN) each received a $25,000 grant for projects that will help their communities to rebuild and recover from the bushfires.

The Orara Valley Progress Association will use the $25,000 grant, funded by R.M.Williams, to engage a Community Recovery Officer to lead the establishment of Community Hubs in Glenreagh and Nana Glen, on the NSW central coast. Both communities were devastated by the Liberation Trail fire in November last year, and then adversely affected by flooding in February.

For those who have lost their homes and/or sustained significant damage from fire and floods, the Community Recovery Officer will be a direct a point of contact and will assist community members to navigate support from various charitable organisations.

The Community Hubs will serve as a central place for community information, as well as offer a safe place in times of need. This paid role will greatly alleviate the workload of community volunteers, many of whom are at breaking point.

The Community Recovery Officer will also work alongside the Coffs Harbour Local Government Area’s (LGA) Community Recovery Officer to coordinate the delivery of workshops to better prepare the Orara Valley communities for future disasters, and address environmental and wildlife needs.

For BMCRN, the $25,000 grant, funded by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, will be used to support the costs of a casual Project Coordinator to deliver a series of disaster preparedness and resilience events ahead of the 2020/21 fire season.

BMCRN acts as a peak organisation for the community services sector across the Blue Mountains, providing leadership and strengthening ties across the incredibly varied and dynamic sector.

Like many fire-affected places, Blue Mountains communities are currently experiencing interwoven layers of community-level trauma, following three megafires in the area over the summer 2019/20. This comes on top of bushfires in recent years, including the 2013 bushfires. Consequently, people are on high alert about the potential impacts of future fire events.

This project will provide a visible, achievable goal for the community to both enhance recovery and preparedness, and enhance community connection, which is especially important in a recovery context exacerbated by COVID-19.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR says the Foundation strongly believes that supporting communities to take charge locally is key to their recovery.

“From our 15 years’ experience supporting communities affected by natural disasters, we’ve learnt that every community is different, and those that are locally based are best placed to know what the community needs.

“One of the strong messages we have heard time and again is that people don’t want outsiders coming in and telling them what, how or when they need to do things. These grants mean that these Orara Valley and Blue Mountains can each appoint a locally-based person who will become the key point of contact to support local recovery, now, and into the future.

“We also know that being prepared is critical as disasters become more frequent and severe,” says Ms Egleton. “Communities that are active and engaged, and understand the emergency management system, are better equipped at the time of a disaster. So too are those that have strong social capital. These two positions will play a key role in that respect too.”