NSW’s peak body for councils has welcomed $250 million in State and Commonwealth government funding to help local communities left reeling from the economic devastation of last summer’s bushfires.
Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott said 50 of the State’s 128 councils were natural disaster declared as a result of the bushfires and were still picking up the pieces.
“Last summer’s bushfires were among the most disastrous events for regional councils in decades, leaving a trail of destruction and local communities struggling,” Cr Scott said.
“Through it all councils stood right beside their residents, with many staff fighting the fires as members of their local volunteer fire fighting units and providing a range of frontline services and support. To this day, councils continue to lead the clean-up and recovery efforts in their communities.
“This $250 million Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund will allow eligible councils as well as businesses, community groups and Aboriginal land councils to apply for funding for local infrastructure and initiatives that will help communities get back on their feet.”
The new fund, announced last week, will provide grants between $200,000 and $20 million for projects such as local infrastructure, tourism campaigns and regional events, workforce adaption and training programs, community wellbeing and mental health programs and neighbourhood safer places.
Cr Scott said the funding directly supported a locally led economic recovery, something LGNSW had been fighting for strongly on behalf of NSW councils.
“This is an encouraging outcome given how hard and effectively mayors, councillors and council staff have worked to maintain services and infrastructure in the face of the of incredible challenges of past 12 months,” she said.
“In that time, local government has once again ably demonstrated its capacity to provide local leadership and value for money.
“LGNSW has been calling for State and Federal government economic stimulus to secure the delivery of the essential local government services needed to keep our communities running, to protect people’s health and their livelihoods.
“This latest funding announcement is a fantastic result.
“LGNSW will continue to push for more State and Federal economic support for councils to ensure sustainable local communities by enabling services and infrastructure that improves the lives of people, protects existing jobs and create new ones.”
Applications for the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund open 27 October.