Bushfires can be devastating and climate change is only increasing the risk of future damage to both communities, landscapes and the impact on wildlife. Funding a range of initiatives the NSW-Australian governments’ Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund (BLERF) Stage 2 has announced funding for a number of projects in the Northern Rivers.
‘Many of these diverse projects are ones which I have lobbied for or backed in since the 2019 bushfires had a devastating impact on residents and businesses in Tenterfield Shire, Kyogle, Lismore City and Tweed Shire local government areas,’ said Lismore MP Janelle Saffin.
The $4,500,000 to Kyogle Council for the construction of the Kyogle Health and Wellbeing Hub serves that will serve as a multi-purpose community centre near the Kyogle Memorial Swimming Pool. Importantly it will also function as an emergency evacuation centre in times of natural disasters.
Ms Saffin highlighted the importance of the funding to ‘build resilience in local communities’.
Other Northern Rivers projects that received funding were:
- $990,001 to Kyogle Council to improve major open spaces and communities in the fire-affected villages of Woodenbong, Bonalbo and Tabulam, ensuring each community has functional and safe recreational areas, and places of refuge during adverse events.
- $959,952 to Upper Clarence Combined Landcare Incorporated to manage bush regeneration by local Aboriginal teams on three fire-damaged properties by controlling weeds, replanting native species, installing nest boxes and reinstating fire trails. Project crosses into Tenterfield Shire as well.
- $1,000,000 to the Great Eastern Rangers to work with its established regional partner networks to support the recovery of bushfire-impacted communities in Kyogle and Tenterfield LGAs, Blue Mountains, South Coast and Far South Coast.
- $2,546,640 to Lismore City Council to construct Stage 1 of Nimbin’s Rainbow Road Walking Track, supporting community resilience and economic recovery through the delivery of a high-quality tourism product.
- $660,153 to Lismore City Council to construct a two-kilometre concrete trail from Riverside Park to Albert Park, and redevelop an existing trail through the Rotary Park dry rainforest.
- $440,000 to ForestWorks’ North East Forestry Innovation Training program to support employment and innovation in the forest and wood products industry in Lismore, Grafton, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie.
- $999,570 to the University of Wollongong to bring its iAccelerate program to 10 bushfire-affected regions, including four Local Aboriginal Land Council areas, building on the success of the existing Bega Valley Innovation Hub.
- $670,000 construct a walking trail between Skennars Head and Lennox Head. It will improve existing pathways, construct finger paths and viewing platforms, and add landscaping to minimise erosion.
- $401,500 to construct a wildlife vet accommodation and training centre to provide emergency overnight accommodation for visiting wildlife vets, as well as training and meeting spaces for vets, nurses, volunteers and carers in Ewingsdale.
- $5,746,545 to Tenterfield Shire Council to construct and seal the final 7.6-kilometre section of Mount Lindesay Road (MR622) at two locations – Liston to Tenterfield (5.5km) and Cullendore Road to Legume (2.1km).
- $960,000 to Tenterfield Shire Council to provide a water source and minor reticulation services for the villages of Drake, Liston, Legume and Torrington.
- $220,000 to Granite Borders Landcare Committee Incorporated for a Regenerative Agriculture Officer to lead a series of training events and workshops for local farmers and rural businesses.
- $900,974 for Anglicare’s Road to Recovery Program to engage hard-to-reach communities and provide case management, employment of local recovery workers and community information sessions about post-trauma support.
‘I welcome this funding as something positive that has come out of those dark days but we know that the BLER Fund was heavily over-subscribed so those who missed out will be deflated,’ Ms Saffin said.
‘The Department of Regional NSW has offered feedback sessions for unsuccessful applicants to identify future funding opportunities, which may include the Australian Government’s upcoming $280-million Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants program.’