Councils, community members and local business groups are shaping the long-term recovery of Victoria’s bushfire-affected regions, with the Commonwealth and Victorian Government announcing a $68.6 million fund to drive regional recovery and back key local community projects.
Commonwealth Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud and Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville today said the Local Economic Recovery program will back both large projects to boost business, jobs and industry resilience across these regions and smaller, local-level projects to support community recovery after the fires.
“Communities have suffered due to drought, bushfire and now COVID, and the aim of this program is about creating jobs, backing businesses, and supporting communities by giving the green light to key local projects”, Minister Littleproud said.
“Bushfire recovery is a long-term journey, and with the clean-up complete, modular houses rolling out, and millions in grants already paid out, this funding will support community recovery, grow businesses and jobs over the coming months and years and make industries more resilient to disasters in the future”, Minister Neville said.
While the Victorian Government is currently working with councils, businesses and locals to identify the main focus areas that are integral to the region’s broader economic recovery, Minister Littleproud and Minister Neville were proud to congratulate the first five local-level community projects to receive funding under the Local Economic Recovery program. The projects include:
- $1,080,075 to begin work upgrading existing community facilities across East Gippsland, such as public halls and recreation reserve buildings, so they better meet the needs of communities. There will be works such as ember proofing, electrical upgrades and satellite communication and WIFI upgrades at community halls and facilities right across the region, including Wairewa Hall, Genoa Public Hall, Clifton Creek Community Public Hall, Ensay Memorial Hall and more.
- $190,000 to restore and expand the Cudgewa tennis facility to provide the community with low cost space for recreation, community gatherings and events to build and sustain community connection.
- $128,700 to re-establish a tree-lined avenue in Tintaldra commemorating the sacrifice and service of residents in World War I and the township’s local heroism and resilience during the 2020 bushfires.
- $120,000 to build a 19.5 metre pedestrian bridge joining Harrietville with the east branch of the Ovens, to support tourism and mobility.
- $40,000 to create three large murals in Mount Beauty to reflect community pride and create a significant new point of interest for tourists traveling through the town.
“These local projects are shovel-ready, they are backed by the community and they will make a big difference to fire affected locations”, Minister Littleproud said.
“We’ll be funding major economic initiatives across these regions as part of this $68.6 million program, but we can’t forget that local-level projects like these are also essential to helping communities recover.”
“We’ve always said that a successful recovery is one that’s shaped and supported by the community, and that’s exactly what the Local Economic Recovery program is all about”, Minister Neville said.
Charlie Bird, Chief Executive Officer of Alpine Shire Council, said the announcement was “great news for Alpine Shire and will deliver community priorities in the recovery from the impacts of recent bushfires.”
Dominic Sandilands, Chair of the Upper Murray Community Recovery Committee located within Towong Shire, said “there's a lot we can achieve with these funds at a local-level and we've been happy to work closely with government on those decisions – because bushfire-affected communities like ours know what's needed most.”
Graham Symons, President of the newly elected Omeo Region Community Recovery Association in East Gippsland, said “we're working closely with government to make sure this funding can support the local community projects we need in East Gippsland.”
Anthony Basford, the Chief Executive Officer of East Gippsland Shire, said "we are pleased to receive this funding that will benefit the East Gippsland community."
The Local Economic Recovery program is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments. Funding will be released in stages over the next 12 to 18 months so applicants have time to plan and prepare. Funding will be allocated across the two categories of regional economic initiatives and local community projects.
The Commonwealth and Victorian Governments have also provided millions in grants to businesses across East Gippsland and North East Victoria. As at 25 September 2020, more than 2,100 small businesses and primary producers have received a $10,000 bushfire support grant to cover lost income, and over 500 directly-impacted small businesses and primary producers have shared in more than $30 million in additional grants to help rebuild their enterprises.
More information about the Local Economic Recovery program, including how to register your expressions of interest for Local Economic Recovery Program funding, is available at https://www.vic.gov.au/local-economic-recovery-program-bushfire-affected-communities