The NSW Government has announced that Anglicare NSW South NSW West & ACT will receive a $3.47 million grant to support ongoing Black Summer bushfire recovery efforts in the Snowy Mountains region and on the NSW South Coast. The funding gives affected communities certainty of service delivery, and allows Anglicare to launch new initiatives including a mobile outreach program to reach remote areas.
Anglicare’s CEO, Jeremy Halcrow, says the grant will be disbursed over the next two years and is a welcome relief for communities still in recovery. “It’s reassuring knowing services and connections established by our bushfire recovery coordinators can continue,” says Mr Halcrow. “Data from the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience shows us that recovering from such a crisis can even take up to five or six years. This funding addresses potential service gaps by allowing our teams to provide holistic, locally managed support.”
Joanne Murrell, Anglicare’s Bushfire Recovery Coordinator in Batlow, has been employed in her role since March 2020 and works from an office based in the town. “Anglicare has become a permanent presence in this community,” says Joanne, who is a long-term Batlow resident. “I’m delighted about the additional funding as it means we can continue to work with people who feel overwhelmed and exhausted by the recovery process.”
State member for Wagga Wagga, Dr Joe McGirr, is a strong advocate for people affected in the Snowy Mountains, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Batlow Recovery Forum. “With so much focus on the COVID pandemic, it’s important to remember the hundreds of people whose lives were impacted by the bushfires. I’m pleased to see an organisation like Anglicare, whose work has been outstanding, now equipped to continue their support for many more months,” said Dr McGirr.
Carlin Stanford is another of Anglicare’s Bushfire Recovery Coordinator, and is based in Cobargo on the NSW South Coast. “As a local myself I have some understanding of the trauma families have gone through,” says Carlin, who evacuated from her own home during the fires. “Many people are emotionally and physically drained, and some are experiencing their second winter in temporary accommodation, so this news is a breath of hope.”
Anglicare has already assisted over 2000 people across the region in the 18 months since the fires by providing a variety of services including material and financial aid, financial counselling, referrals and local hub-based support. Funding will allow these services to continue and see new programs established offering physical, mental and emotional support. Data from Anglicare showed that 49 percent of clients reported that COVID had impacted their ability to recover, and 50 percent stated that the fires had an ongoing impact on their employment, however 91 percent also found Anglicare’s assistance had been positive for their overall recovery.
Specific supports for the Batlow region will include access to a mobile emergency relief van, training and workshops, and the continuation of a pilot preschool education program rolled out to other interested primary schools. The funding will also support the training and development of our hundreds of volunteers in the community to ensure they are equipped to offer support in the event of any future natural disasters.
For more information about Anglicare’s disaster recovery services, or to support this work, visit www.anglicare.com.au/bushfirerecovery
Pictured: Bushfire Recovery Coordinator, Carlin, in Cobargo on the NSW South Coast.