Since January 2020, the funds from the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal have been used to implement the Society’s Bushfire Recovery activities in the Canberra/Goulburn affected areas including Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, and the Snowy Valleys. Thanks to the support of the community, the funds will allow this program to run until 31 December 2022.
Our Community Development program was introduced to build cohesiveness, resilience and capacity within the Bega Valley, Eurobodalla and Snowy Valleys communities so that they will cope more effectively with future disasters.
The Vinnies Bushfire Recovery Program is now in its third phase. The initial phase was the provision of emergency relief (money, food, clothing, accommodation, etc.) to those who had been affected by the Black Summer bushfires.
The second, overlapping, phase was the provision of three rounds of grants to community organisations for projects that will assist their local communities in recovering from the various impacts of the bushfires.
The final phase, which also overlaps the first two phases, involves working in bushfire affected communities to promote cohesion, resilience and preparedness. This is the Community Development phase.
The Community Development phase is being carried out by five Community Development Officers (CDOs’) working in the Eurobodalla, Bega Valley and Snowy Mountains Shires. The selection requirement for these officers was that they lived in the respective shire at the time of the fires, possessed the personal and organisational skills necessary to work effectively in small communities and demonstrated a passion to contribute to community recovery.
They work with the Vinnies ethos of “a hand up rather than a handout” to promote skills that will have impacts beyond the lifetime of the Vinnies Bushfire Recovery Program.
The work undertaken by our CDOs includes community cohesion and wellbeing events, assisting the community in generating ideas for community development, developing project plans and assisting with implementation, as well as assisting communities to apply for suitable grants.
Our CDOs work with community organisations in their local areas to continue the work of rebuilding the communities and supporting those in need.
The CDOs also work with other bushfire recovery agencies (such as Red Cross, local councils, Rotary and Anglicare) on joint projects to avoid duplication and develop synergies where possible.
If you are a community organisation or group and are interested in working with Vinnies to assist your community, please contact the Community Development Officer in your area.
Community Development Officers
Millingandi, Southern Bega Valley Shire
Over the past 13 months I have proudly supported the communities affected by the Black Summer Bushfires. In this time, I have listened to what their needs and wants are building a close relationship to give them a “hand up” where it was needed most. Some of these include, supporting community events, youth programs, assisting with grant applications and supporting the rebuild of infrastructure within various towns. Our bushfire recovery will continue until the end of December 2022, and I will strive to make a difference for those communities who mean so much to us here at Vinnies.
Community Development Officer, Eurobodalla (North)
Focussed on supporting community groups through various means, including assisting with grant applications, organising recovery events, e.g. community get togethers, participating in working groups; e.g. in Mogo supporting a men’s group to progress the idea of improved and more sustainable facilities; and linking in with existing and new programs that have the same aim to support community-led recovery from the Black Summer Bushfires.
Moruya, Northern Eurobodalla Shire
Lukas is responsible for the southern half of the Eurobodalla region and has a particular interest in men’s healing and recovery programs. In addition to assisting many community initiatives in various capacities, he currently facilitates the Eurobodalla Men’s Leadership Group and coordinates the monthly ‘Eurobodalla Men’s Work Digest’ newsletter. Lukas lives in Moruya with his wife Valerie.
Grahamstown, Snowy Valley Shire
I grew up in the Snowy Valleys near Adelong in NSW, and to date have had extensive careers in both Agriculture and Hospitality/Tourism. My work in the Australian Agricultural Industry has given me the platform to understand the unique demands of rural and remote primary production that is central to many pockets of the Snowy Valleys. The tourism and hospitality industries have allowed me to be engaged within, and witness the great value and importance of community coming together and sharing in their surrounds. Hence, I am very blessed to use this unique set of skills in the role of Community Development Officer for the St Vincent de Paul Society in the Snowy Valleys region to give back to the community I grew up in. We do this by guiding individuals and groups to identify what is important to them in strengthening their ties, and identifying ways that Vinnies can assist the fulfillment of projects and events as we continue to emerge from the Black Summer Bushfire Disaster.
Stoney Creek, Northern Bega Valley Shire
I work directly with community groups and individuals to achieve their projects, through adding resources, skills and building capacity. As we all work through the recovery, Vinnies has invested in the relationships within the communities we work to ensure we are meeting the needs on the ground. This includes working on memorial projects, supporting people in rebuilding their homes, assisting community groups to take shape and thrive and coordinating community events. Our bushfire recovery projects and will continue in this work until the end of 2022