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BLER Fund Overview

Eligible LGAs include: 

  • Armidale Regional Council 

  • Ballina Shire Council 

  • Bega Valley Shire Council 

  • Bellingen Shire Council 

  • Blue Mountains City Council 

  • Byron Shire Council 

  • Central Coast Council 

  • Cessnock City Council 

  • Clarence Valley Council 

  • Coffs Harbour City Council 

  • Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council 

  • Dungog Shire Council 

  • Eurobodalla Shire Council 

  • Glen Innes Severn Council 

  • Goulburn Mulwaree Council 

  • Greater Hume Shire Council 

  • Gwydir Shire Council 

  • Hawkesbury City Council 

  • Inverell Shire Council 

  • Kempsey Shire Council 

  • Kyogle Council 

  • Lake Macquarie City Council 

  • Lismore City Council 

  • City of Lithgow Council 

  • MidCoast Council 

  • Mid-Western Regional Council 

  • Muswellbrook Shire Council 

  • Nambucca Shire Council 

  • Narrabri Shire Council 

  • Oberon Council 

  • Port Macquarie-Hastings Council 

  • Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council 

  • Richmond Valley Council 

  • Shoalhaven City Council 

  • Singleton Council 

  • Snowy Monaro Regional Council 

  • Snowy Valleys Council 

  • Tamworth Regional Council 

  • Tenterfield Shire Council 

  • Tweed Shire Council 

  • Upper Hunter Shire Council 

  • Upper Lachlan Shire Council 

  • Uralla Shire Council 

  • Wagga Wagga City Council 

  • Walcha Council 

  • Wingecarribee Shire Council 

  • Wollondilly Shire Council 

This list is also available in Appendix A of the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund Program Guidelines. 

The Commonwealth Government approved eligible LGAs at the national level. LGAs were disaster declared according to the level of impact experienced during the 2019-2020 bushfire season. 

BLER is a joint Commonwealth and NSW Government funding package equally funded.

Under the roles and responsibilities of the national Local Economic Recovery (LER), the NSW Government is responsible for identifying and assessing local economic recovery projects for funding through new or existing programs.   

The Commonwealth reviews and endorses projects proposed by the NSW Government that meet all the national Local Economic Recovery (LER) framework criteria. 

Balance and need; alignment; enduring benefit; funding stream suitability; local participation, support and delivery; evidence base; and feasibility. For more details about each of the national LER framework criteria is available on the National Bushfire Recovery Agency website at  bushfirerecovery.gov.au/local-recovery-projects

The bushfire recovery effort in NSW is broad and has been deliberately staged to ensure the immediate, medium and long term needs of impacted people and communities are met, no matter where they live. 

Stage 1 – Early co-funded projects 

Background

The $140 million Bushfire Industry Recovery Package (BIRP) has provided funding to support targeted agricultural industries impacted by the 2019/20 bushfires to rebuild, recover and regrow. 

BIRP funding has been committed through two streams: Sector Development Grants and Supply Chain Support Grants. Both streams will facilitate the immediate, medium and long-term rebuilding of regional NSW’s agricultural industries by: 

  • helping producers to re-establish and support functional supply chains 

  • creating and retaining jobs 

  • strengthening local supply chains 

  • increasing value-add production and diversification.  

The Commonwealth Government recognised the NSW Government’s funding commitment to bushfire affected communities and endorsed 50 Sector Development Grants, as consistent with the national Local Economic Recovery framework and national co-funding requirements. The NSW Government wholly funded the Supply Chain Support Grants. 

Fast-tracked Priority Projects

The Commonwealth Government requested the state governments in the bushfire impacted states identify priority, shovel-ready projects for early co-funding. This was to enable funding to be provided more quickly to projects that had been previously assessed, were ready to commence and would deliver economic benefits to the region. 

The Department of Regional NSW worked with Resilience NSW, local councils, the National Bushfire Recovery Agency (NBRA) and other stakeholders to identify potential shovel-ready projects that aligned with the national Local Economic Recovery (LER) framework criteria and were suitable for early co-funding. 

Projects were identified from a range of sources such as Local and Regional Recovery Action Plans, existing NSW Government programs and directly from councils. 

Sector Development Grants

The Sector Development Grants program was an open, competitive, time-based  application round for project grants between $50,000 and $10 million. Program guidelines were published on the Department of Regional NSW website and applications were open from 19 May to 26 July 2020.  

In total, 178 applications were submitted and put through a competitive and merit-based assessment process led by the Department of Regional NSW. 

50 industry projects were identified through the open application and competitive assessment process and co-endorsed by the Commonwealth for funding under the BLER Package. 

Two viticulture industry recovery projects that were competitively assessed as meeting the Bushfire Industry Recovery Package guidelines were not co-endorsed by the Commonwealth for funding as they were in LGAs not captured in the national Local Economic Recovery framework. As these meritorious projects met the published guidelines and supported the viticulture industry recovery, NSW solely funded them separate to BLER funding. 

Stage 2 – BLER Fund 

Background 

The Stage 2 - BLER Fund was open for applications from 27 October 2020 to 28 January 2021.  

Program guidelines were published on the Department of Regional NSW website and the program was advertised across print, radio, digital and social media. 

Funding through the Stage 2 - BLER Fund has been committed to 195 local community projects supporting economic or social recovery, strengthening resilience and delivering ongoing community benefit.   

Over 650 applications were received, requesting more than $1.6 billion in funding, and were put through a merit-based assessment process led by the Department of Regional NSW. 

Community feedback was that the original application closing date was too tight for many organisations. The application extension provided potential applicants with more time to develop applications in order to deliver meaningful projects for their communities.

The Australian and NSW Governments agreed to bring forward an additional $33 million from Stage 3 to fund more projects in Stage 2 given the significant over-subscription of applications (more than six times the original available funding).

Assessment Process

The Department of Regional NSW led the merit-based assessment process in line with the eligibility and assessment criteria published in the BLER Program Guidelines and the Commonwealth Government’s Local Economic Recovery funding criteria. The assessment process followed four steps: 

  • Step 1 – Applications assessed for eligibility and alignment with program assessment criteria 

  • Step 2 – All projects reviewed and recommended by the NSW BLER Fund Stage 2 Assessment Panel 

  • Step 3 – Projects co-endorsed by the NSW and Australian Governments 

  • Step 4 – Final funding approval by the NSW Government 

The robust, fair and transparent process was overseen by independent probity advisors from both the Australian and NSW Governments.  

All state and federal Members of Parliament (MPs) representing eligible bushfire-impacted regions were invited to comment on the project applications within their electorates to provide a local view on priorities and recovery needs of the communities they represent.  

MP feedback was only one part of the consideration of a project and did not constitute a formal component of the Assessment Framework.   

No. More than 650 applications were received, seeking over $1.6 billion – more than six times the original available funding.

Next steps

The Department of Regional NSW can provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants and identify future funding opportunities where appropriate.  This may include the Australian Government’s $280 million Black Summer Grants Program.  To book a feedback session, please contact the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery team at bler@regional.nsw.gov.au

If successful you will be required to enter into a funding deed with the NSW Government which will outline your reporting, work and legal requirements to receive your grant funding. An example funding deed is available on our website at the link below Sample Funding Deed (PDF, 728.81 KB)

Reporting requirements can be found in the Sample Funding Deed (PDF, 728.81 KB) 

Successful applicants are required to submit quarterly progress reports during the project period.  After the project is completed you will be required to participate in the program evaluation, determining the extent to which the project has achieved its stated objectives.  Any information submitted by an applicant may be used for promotional material prepared by the NSW Government or the Commonwealth Government. 

Deadlines for BLER funded projects 

Projects need to be completed by June 2023.

Projects must be delivered by 30 June 2023. Requests for variations or changes to the project will only be considered by the Department in very limited circumstances. 

Stage 3 – Final projects/initiatives  

A final package of projects, programs and initiatives to be agreed between the Australian and NSW governments, to be designed and delivered by the end of 2021.

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