St Vincent De Paul Society NSW Announces Two New Programs for Bushfire Recovery

Monday 27 July 2020

The St Vincent de Paul Society NSW has today laid out its roadmap for further bushfire recovery, announcing two new programs funded by donations to the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal.

All remaining appeal donations held by the Society in NSW have been allocated to these new programs, fulfilling the organisation’s promise to use every last dollar to support bushfire-affected communities.

“Our bushfire response so far has focused on supporting people on an individual level, and we are so grateful to Vinnies Bushfire Appeal donors for enabling us to distribute assistance to more than 4,560 households across Australia,” said Jack de Groot, CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW.

“Now as we move towards longer-term recovery, in NSW we will focus on projects with community-wide benefit. Today we are opening applications to the Vinnies NSW Community Bushfire Grants Program, as well as announcing our Bushfire Community Development Program.

“We appreciate that the Black Summer bushfires affected each community differently, and local residents know their own needs better than anyone. That’s why we are partnering with local organisations, as well as placing experienced workers in the hardest-hit communities so they can develop locally-tailored recovery projects,” Mr de Groot said.

Through the Vinnies NSW Community Bushfire Grants Program, 115 grants of up to $20,000 will be provided to registered community organisations, helping them to administer their own local recovery projects. These could take many forms, from infrastructure repairs to counselling and education programs and more.

Applications will be accepted in two stages, the first of which opens today and closes on 23 August. Interested organisations are invited to visit www.vinnies.org.au/bushfiregrants to find out more and apply.

Funding will also be used to deliver the Vinnies NSW Bushfire Community Development Program, where experienced Vinnies community workers will be placed in a number of areas judged to be most affected by the bushfires and most vulnerable to ongoing disadvantage. Vinnies community development workers will consult widely with residents, councils, local businesses and organisations, working closely with the community to develop and lead a tailored plan for local recovery.

The first region to receive support through the Bushfire Community Development Program will be Kempsey, where Vinnies began consultations last week.

“Our work here is about filling the gaps, ensuring that anyone who has been overlooked or left behind is brought back into the fold. We don’t want to replicate recovery work that is already being done by government or other organisations, but to complement their work so that everyone is catered for, and this community can recover as a whole,” said Niamh Mannion, Executive Director of Services at the Society NSW.

“A dedicated Society social worker will be based at the Kempsey Recovery Hub for the next several weeks, and we warmly welcome locals to drop by and have a chat. We are open to all ideas about what local recovery should look like,” Ms Mannion said.

Following the roll-out of the Vinnies NSW Bushfire Community Development Program in Kempsey, a quick evaluation will take place before the program is expanded to other communities across the state.

These two new programs from the Society in NSW stand alongside recovery initiatives from Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn, which independently provides services to the ACT and much of the South Coast region. The application process for grants in these areas will be announced shortly by Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn.

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: media.nsw@vinnies.org.au | 0417 446 430