NSW Premier Mike Baird and Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan announced today that helping school children recover from bushfire trauma is central among 10 new projects funded under the Blue Mountains Community Bushfire Grants Program.
Mr Baird said the final round of the Blue Mountains Community Bushfire Grants Program would distribute $367,900 to worthwhile community based projects to provide important social and economic benefits to the recovering Blue Mountains community.
“The bushfires of October last year devastated the Blue Mountains region, but the community here is resilient and it has been able to rebuild,” Mr Baird said.
“We asked community leaders, the Council, recovery experts and those directly affected by the bushfires to help us design this grants program.
“It is fantastic that school children and families are among those who will benefit from the assistance delivered through this program – especially as we move into another hot summer where we have already seen renewed threat from fires.”
Mr Keenan said the fires destroyed more than 200 homes and damaged 100 more, which is why this help is so vital.
“Children and their families, along with the wider Blue Mountains community, are still traumatised by the October 2013 fires and will be experiencing increasing anxiety as we approach the new fire season,” Mr Kennan said.
“So I’m very pleased to see that six of the 10 new projects to be funded in this final round will help improve the resilience and capacity of children and families to cope in the face of potential new emergencies.
“In total, just over 60 per cent of the projects funded in both rounds of the grants program are dedicated to helping families and children to recover and develop greater resilience.”
NSW Blue Mountains MP Roza Sage said it was vital to strike a balance between helping residents to cope emotionally and also protecting their livelihoods into the future.
“That’s why Blue Mountains businesses will also benefit from an industry diversification project, delivering a major boost to the visibility of the region’s creative industries,” Mrs Sage said.
“Strengthening the diversity and prominence of Blue Mountains industries means that the local economy may not be dealt such a heavy blow in a potential future crisis.”
Federal Member for Macquarie Louise Markus said the support from the Commonwealth and NSW Governments has been extremely valuable.
“I am very impressed with the quality of all 32 projects proposed by the community and funded under both stages of this $1,072,500 joint Federal and State Government Program,” Ms Markus said.
“I am proud to support these innovative projects which the Blue Mountains community itself has recommended to address the devastating impacts of the 2013 bushfires.”
Among the projects are:
- $46,000 to Springwood High School P&C for a program to increase bush fire preparedness and optimism in the school community, developing fire resistant gardens for the school and partnering with the Faulconbridge Rural Fire Brigade to establish a secondary schools cadetship program
- $23,436 to Katoomba High School for a Year 10 program to help develop team building, optimism and resilience skills to cope with challenging situations
- $50,000 to the Blue Mountains City Council to establish resilience and positive mental health frameworks through the Kids Matter and MindMatters programs in schools
- $56,000 to Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise to develop a brand identity for the region’s creative industries, to support diversification in the local economy.
A list of successful Round 2 applicants and projects is available at www.dpc.nsw.gov.au/bushfiregrants and a full list is attached to this media release.
The Blue Mountains Flexible Community Grants Program is part of the joint NSW and Commonwealth Government’s $1,847,500 recovery package for the Blue Mountains Community announced on 14 February 2014.
This is in addition to the $11.4 million provided by the NSW and Commonwealth Governments in the immediate aftermath of the bushfires for emergency assistance and clean-up efforts.