3rd August 2020

The St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn has today announced a new program funded by donations to the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal.

“Our bushfire response so far has focused on supporting people at the individual level, and we are so grateful to Vinnies Bushfire Appeal donors for enabling us to distribute cash to more than 4,560 households across Australia,” said Barnie van Wyk, CEO of Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn.

“Now as we move towards recovery, we will focus on projects with community-wide benefit. Today we are opening applications to the Community Bushfire Grants Program.

“We appreciate that the Black Summer bushfires affected each community differently, and local residents know their own community’s needs better than anyone. That why we are meeting with councils and community organisations all across the affected regions to work together to develop locally-tailored recovery projects,” Mr van Wyk said.

Ray Akhurst, Vinnies volunteer Bushfire Recovery Coordinator, has been providing support to affected individuals and communities since January and will oversee the grants application process.

“Our experience is that recovery is a long-term process and is best undertaken at the community level. These local organisations have a good feel for the needs of the community as it recovers from bushfire.

“There will always be a need for individual support, and our conferences will continue to support people throughout this process. But we recognise we also need a community-wide perspective on how best to recover,” said Ray.

“The nature of the project is very wide. We are not being prescriptive about the kind of project that comes forward. It may be infrastructure repairs, counselling, education or caring for country programs.

“I hope we will be inundated with requests,” said Ray.

This new program from Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn, which provides services to the ACT, Queanbeyan-Palerang, much of the South Coast region and Snowy Mountains region, will stand alongside recovery initiatives from Vinnies NSW. The application process for grants outside these areas has been announced separately by Vinnies NSW.

Through the Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn Community Bushfire Grants Program, 70 grants of up to $20,000 will be provided to registered community organisations, helping them to administer their own local recovery projects.

Applications will be accepted in two stages, the first of which opens today and closes on 28 August. Interested organisations are invited to visit https://www.vinnies.org.au/page/Find_Help/ACT/Bushfire_Community_Grants/  to find out more and apply.

For more information about the St Vincent de Paul Society’s work in bushfire relief and recovery across Australia, visit www.vinnies.org.au/bushfire.

Media contact: Kelly Mullinger Kelly.mullinger@vinnies.org.au 0447 471 320