Bushfire-affected communities across East Gippsland and Victoria’s North East will benefit from $8 million in funding to grow jobs, create apprenticeships, attract more visitors and help farms become more resilient.
The grants announced by the Federal Governmant have been established to support the next steps in the region’s long-term economic recovery after last season’s bushfires.
With tens of millions in grants already provided directly to farmers and small businesses to help them re-establish their enterprises, they now need the tools, skills and specialist services to make the right decisions and prepare for the future.
Minister Lisa Neville said the funding will also benefit groups hardest hit by COVID-19.
“We’re promoting regional and cultural tourism, providing mentoring and microfinance access to sole traders, creating 40 new apprenticeship and traineeship positions for young people, and helping Aboriginal communities establish new industries on Country.”
Regional economic recovery programs funded as part of the Australian and Victorian Governments’ $68.6 million Local Economic Recovery program (LER) include:
- $2,100,000 for On-farm Recovery Support Services, linking farmers with dedicated agricultural recovery experts to assist with pasture recovery, ground cover management and revegetation, soil health, erosion, farm water supplies and quality, risk and resilience planning (including fire preparedness), and mental health and wellbeing.
- $1,960,000 for the Gippsland and High-Country Visitor Reactivation Program,providing additional funds for Tourism North East and Destination Gippsland for industry support and promotion after bushfires and COVID-19.
- $1,280,000 for the Victorian Apprenticeship Bushfire Recovery Program to create 40 new apprenticeship and traineeship positions for young people in East Gippsland and the North East.
- $1,000,000 for a Microenterprise Development Program, based on a successful pilot program in the Latrobe Valley, providing coaching, mentoring, microfinance access and other resources to support sole traders.
- $1,000,000 for the Taungurung Bushfire Recovery Economic Prosperity Program,supporting Aboriginal cultural tourism opportunities on Taungurung Country (in the North East) and establishing the regional cultivation of mountain pepper – an in-demand ‘superfood’ used by Aboriginal people for generations.
- $500,000 to expand Growing Regional Opportunities for Work (GROW) Gippsland, a collaborative program owned by local businesses which redirects procurement spend towards local suppliers and creates jobs through inclusive employment.
- $160,000 to support Creative Victoria’s Regional Collections Digitisation Roadshow, for the preservation of precious documents and objects in bushfire-prone regions.
The Australian and Victorian Governments’ $68.6 million Local Economic Recovery (LER) program provides funding for projects big and small to boost the long-term economy of fire-affected areas.
Applications have now closed for LER grants of up to $5 million for major economic stimulus projects, and a round of local community project grants of up to $2 million.
Bushfire Recovery Victoria received 34 applications for local community project grants, with results to be announced soon.
The next round of community projects grants will open in March. Projects already funded under the Local Economic Recovery program include:
- $1,080,075 to begin work upgrading existing community facilities across East Gippsland, such as public halls and recreation reserve buildings
- $190,000 to restore and expand the Cudgewa tennis facility
- $128,700 to re-establish a tree-lined avenue of honour in Tintaldra
- $120,000 to build a pedestrian bridge joining Harrietville with the east branch of the Ovens
- $40,000 to create three large murals in Mount Beauty to reflect community pride
“We’ll be funding major economic initiatives across these regions as part of this $68.6 million program, but we can’t forget that local-level projects like these are also essential to helping communities recover”, Minister Neville said.
In addition to Local Economic Recovery grants supporting long-term recovery, farmers and small businesses also received support to rebuild and recover their enterprises in the aftermath of the fires.
Over 2200 small businesses and primary producers received the $10,000 Small Business Bushfire Support grant to cover lost income, and over 400 directly affected primary producers received Emergency Bushfire in Primary Industries grants of up to $75,000.
These grants close in Victoria on 31 January 2021, and you can see more or apply at www.ruralfinance.com.au.
“We’re working closely with the Commonwealth to ensure that people who were among the most affected by these fires – the hundreds of individuals who lost homes, businesses and farms – are getting the support they need”, Minister Neville said.
To learn more about the Local Economic Recovery program in Victoria, or see what else you might be eligible for, visit www.brv.vic.gov.au, contact 1800 560 760 or visit a local Bushfire Recovery Hub.