Local News

Recovery work to expand in communities hit by worst bushfires on record

Australian Red Cross will remain on the ground and support an expanded number of communities as people continue their long, hard recovery from the devastating 2019-2020 bushfires.

Welcoming this week’s announcement by the Australian Government that Red Cross is to receive $7,256,492.15 under the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants program, Red Cross Head of Emergency Services Andrew Coghlan said it will mean vital on-the-ground community work can expand into 17 new council areas and an additional 11 areas where our capacity is currently very limited.

“This builds on our existing recovery program that’s been made possible by generous donors and expands our current work in over 40 local government areas (LGAs),” Mr Coghlan said.

Australia’s 2019/2020 bushfire season was the most destructive on record. By the end of the bushfire season in March 2020, bushfires had burnt approximately 19.4 million hectares across the country, killing 35 people, destroying 3,094 homes and 7,000 outbuildings. Red Cross was activated to support the crisis from September 2019, and current field Recovery Officers are still on the ground across our states.

“To date, recovery teams have provided support for 67,764 people affected by the bushfires, through one-to-one support, workshops, at community events and with information and referrals. Field recovery teams have also been vital in helping people access Red Cross Bushfire Grants.

“To continue to meet the need of bushfire-affected individual and communities we will provide psychosocial support and community recovery services. Our recovery program will also support local government, recovery workers, formal and informal community leaders and groups.

“Other areas of our recovery program will include work with communities to increase social cohesion and strengthen resilience for future events, in partnership with emergency services agencies, local government, and other community services organisations.

“This additional funding means we can focus on continuing to support recovery initiatives lead by local people themselves. These do so much to rebuild communities and support their psychosocial recovery and have included things like a bushfire kids’ program in South Australia, an art show, community lunches and dinner – all suggestions local groups have come up with to help them heal.”

Red Cross will be expanding to work in the following LGAs: Bellingen, Wollondilly, Lithgow, Nambucca, Clarence Valley, Coffs, Harbour, Queanbeyan-Palerang, Muswellbrook, Bega Valley, Tamworth, Snowy Monaro, Snowy Valleys, Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Cessnock, Mansfield, Wellington, Indigo, Gold Coast, South Burnett, Bundaberg, Ipswich City, Fraser Coast, North Burnett, Gympie, Glamorgan/Spring Bay, Kingston, Lower Eyre Peninsula