The Federal Government has announced a $650 million support package to aid economic recovery after the 2019-20 bushfires, with $448.5 million earmarked for local projects.
The package – the next tranche of the $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund set up in January – will also see $149.7 million directed to projects to protect native wildlife and wildlife habitats and to support better land management.
Other measures eligible for support include:
- Community wellbeing help, with $13.5 million for locally chosen supports to boost the emotional and mental health of bushfire-affected communities;
- Forestry transport help, with $15 million to assist the forestry industry with the increased costs of transporting burned salvaged logs over longer distances to surviving timber mills or storage sites; and
- Telecommunications help, with $27.1 million money to strengthen telecommunications capabilities for the future.
The regional projects to be funded under the $448.5 million allocation will align with recovery plans being developed in 10 of the worst-affected regions. These plans will be guided by the “build back better” principle, with local government, business, civic leaders and states having input.
Projects will differ in each region, but are likely to include:
- Infrastructure programs;
- Community wellbeing and resilience;
- Local tourism campaigns; and
- Water-saving programs
The finalised plans will go to National Bushfire Recovery Agency for determination before they are signed-off by Federal Drought and Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud.
The NBRA has published an information kit to help stakeholders understand the new measures. It includes a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) around the extra support as well as an update of the recovery progress so far.
Since the National Bushfire Recovery Fund was set up in in January, $1.3 billion has been committed in the form of local government support, loans, grants, and money for debris removal.
Forty-three councils in Victoria, SA, Queensland, and NSW have been provided $1 million lump-sum payments to help with initial recovery efforts.