As part of the Regional Bushfire Recovery and Development Program, bushfire-affected communities will share in $448.5 million from the federal government to support the delivery of local recovery plans with priority given to the most severely impacted regions, PM Scott Morrison announced on Monday.
“The same communities that were hurting most from the bushfires are hurting from the impacts of COVID-19. The impacts have been devastating,” the Prime Minister said.
“This funding injection comes as the damage from the bushfires has made itself clear in the weeks and months after they passed, and regions have been finalising the sorts of projects they want to get underway to build back better.”
The latest government support is part of the $2 billion bushfire recovery fund the government announced back in January, in the midst of the bushfire crisis.
According to the PM, of the $2 billion, around half a billion dollars of grants and loans have already flowed to families and businesses, as well as $214.9 million in disaster recovery payments and $240 million in community recovery packages.
The latest funds are expected to back local jobs through projects such as construction, landscape and water development, workshops and events, and replacing produce and stock, as well as other initiatives that benefit the communities.
“Every community is different and every community is at a different point in their recovery. That’s why the projects that these funds will support are not one-size-fits-all — they will reflect community needs,” Mr Morrison said.
“I urge local communities to work with their state governments and to provide the National Bushfire Recovery Agency with their priority projects as soon as possible.”
Speaking to media alongside the PM, Minister for Emergency Management David Littleproud said he’d always wanted a locally led recovery, not a Canberra-led recovery.
“We’re working side by side with families, small businesses, primary producers and the tourism sector to deliver a well thought-out economic recovery as quickly as possible,” Minister Littleproud said.
“We know and have seen firsthand just how severe the impact from the bushfires and now COVID-19 has been. The past six months have been incredibly tough for so many Australians.”
According to the government, the remainder of the $650 million will cover forestry transport assistance, with $15 million dedicated to assist the industry with the increased costs of transporting burned salvaged logs over longer distances to surviving timber mills or storage sites in bushfire-affected areas in Victoria and New South Wales.
A further $13.5 million will be directed towards community wellbeing and participation, while a major chunk or $149.7 million will fund efforts that go beyond the immediate devastation on species and natural assets through habitat regeneration, waterway and catchment restoration.
Strengthening telecommunications capabilities prior to future natural disasters will cost an additional $27.1 million.
To access support and to find further details, visit the National Bushfire Recovery Agency website at www.bushfirerecovery.gov.au.