Almost $50 million will be injected into community projects in the Eurobodalla and Bega Valley Shires more than two years after the Black Summer Bushfires devastated the region.
Community-led and council projects in the Eurobodalla will receive $12.7 million, while the Bega Valley will benefit from $35.5 million as part of the Federal Government’s Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants Program.
Batemans Bay State Emergency Service volunteers have been operating in temporary accommodation after their shed was destroyed on New Years’ Eve 2019.
Unit Commander Mike Day says the 40 members are “over the moon” to have received a $628,050 grant towards the construction of a new purpose-built facility in Tallgums Way at Surf Beach.
Mr Day said while volunteers managed to move their rescue vehicles and boats to safety during the fires, the complex was destroyed.
“We’re really looking forward to moving into the new premises which will have garage bays for our vehicles and storage for equipment as well as training rooms, offices, a kitchen and full bathroom facilities,” he said.
“Our temporary premises has provided a roof over our heads, however it will be awesome to get into the new purpose-built facility.”
The new headquarters will be closer to the unit’s population base and is expected to be completed by March 2024.
The unit, which currently has 40 members, also received a $200,000 infrastructure grant from the Office of Responsible Gambling.
A total of 12 community-led projects and three council projects, including the SES building, received funds following applications made last year.
Council projects also include $940,000 for a new canteen and amenities building at Moruya Showground and $200,000 towards investigating suitable land for the State Government’s new emergency services precinct.
Eurobodalla Mayor Mathew Hatcher said the grants have been a long time coming but will go a long way to helping the shire’s recovery and resilience efforts.
“This is the announcement we’ve been waiting for, like the money to rebuild the Bay’s SES headquarters,” he said.
“An injection of cash to find land for the now-funded emergency services precinct means that project can get up and running.
“And Moruya Showground, home for thousands of evacuees during the fires, will get a much-needed new amenities and canteen building. These are great outcomes for disaster preparedness in our shire.”
Community-led projects include $6 million for a community hub and sport and recreational facility, $999,000 for the Mogo Community Recreation Hub and $796,000 for the Tuross Valley Rebuild and Recovery project.
Almost $1.5 million will assist the Eurobodalla children’s resilience and wellbeing support project and $82,000 will go towards the Moruya CWA Bushfire and Heatwave Refuge.
Mayor Hatcher said all the community groups successful in obtaining funding are to be congratulated.
“Special mention must go to Mogo Business Chamber president Richard Adams for his success in obtaining close to a million dollars to build a community centre in Mogo,” he said.
Further south, Bega Valley Shire Council has welcomed more than $10.5 million of direct funding for projects in the Bega Valley and a further $25 million for community partnership projects.
Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said the funding would provide a much-needed boost to the community’s ongoing recovery journey.
“Two years on from the Black Summer bushfires there is still much to be done to help our communities recover and build more long-term strength and resilience,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.
“This funding will go a long way to addressing social and economic recovery and resilience across the shire, as well as improving the sustainability of key community infrastructure.”
Council secured funds for three projects, one of which is a partnership with the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, totalling more than $2.7 million.
Funding has also been awarded to community groups such as the Cobargo Community Energy Project, enhancement of evacuation facilities for Bermagui Surf Life Saving Club and the Twofold Aboriginal Corporation’s Cultural and Skills Training Centre.
Council partnership projects being supported include the water catchment and sanitation project which will enable water and sanitation pods to be built for another 14 families who lost their homes in the Black Summer bushfires and are living on their land in temporary accommodation with only very basic water and sanitation systems in place.
Funds will assist not-for-profits in the shire to maximise the impact of their work as they actively support social recovery and provide additional, dedicated planning, rebuilding, information and resilience resources within council to support people who lost their homes.
Member for Gilmore Fiona Phillips says, while she is disappointed this process has taken so long, she is pleased to see funding announced.
“These projects will help individual communities recover in their own way, making life that tiny bit easier, and importantly allowing recovery and healing,” Mrs Phillips said.
“Some of these projects have been in the making for a very long time. Not only will they help with recovery, but many will have long-lasting benefits for generations.”