$1M Federal grant to Central Coast Council for bushfire recovery

firesThe fire reached the Raines' Mangrove Mountain property but did not threaten their house. Photo: Elaine Raines

Bushfire-hit communities on the Central Coast will see vital infrastructure repaired sooner with a $1M Federal grant to Central Coast Council.

Member for Robertson, Lucy Wicks, said the grant, delivered as part of a $2B allocation to the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, would allow council to choose the best way to use the money to help its community recover.

“This means that council can get out and rebuild what’s important to people in our bushfire hit communities, like the Central Coast Plateau, ” Wicks said. “This could go into rebuilding or improving roads and other community infrastructure. “It can also go to hiring staff to help with the recovery, or staging local events to attract more tourists and business to the region.

“This will help get the local economy moving which will help speed up recovery in the Central Coast Council area. ” Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said the government was committed to working hand in hand with regional communities to rebuild towns and villages. “These payments will provide immediate assistance directly into the hands of local councils, ” he said.

“Importantly this is a base payment and just the start of our support for local communities, in what we know will be a long recovery. ” Funding will be directed to councils which have been “activated” by their respective state government for Category C bushfire disaster recovery relief under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA). Payments will not require matched funding from state governments.

Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said the move was the “first instalment” in a process of locally led recovery. “We’re committed to rebuilding communities, but also the lives of those impacted by these devastating fires, ” he said.

The money is in addition to funding that is automatically available to councils through other disaster recovery arrangements and was delivered to state governments on January 9, to administer payments to councils.

The only condition placed on councils is that they develop a Program of Works within three months and report back to the Commonwealth in 12 months’ time.

Councils will be able to spend their $1M payments on a variety of projects including: Rebuilding damaged or destroyed council assets such as key local roads, bridges, and community facilities; Employing additional local staff to take on specialist recovery or planning roles to help coordinate and plan the rebuilding effort; Hosting new public activities and events to bring communities together and attract visitors back to affected regions; and, Immediate maintenance and repairs to relief and evacuation centres.

A Central Coast Council spokesperson said Council had been notified it would receive the $1M Federal Government grant to help rebuild vital infrastructure and strengthen community resilience. “Council has commenced assessment of damage caused by the recent bush fires and will also be obtaining feedback from community members at Bush Fire Community Information Sessions this week and next, ” the spokesperson said.

“Following investigation, feedback and assessment of costs, Council will then be able to determine and share with the community how the grant funding will be allocated. ”

Source: Media release, Jan 9 Member for Robertson, Lucy Wicks Media statement, Jan 13 Central Coast Council