Rebekha advocates for Local Disaster Resilience Program
Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has called on the Australian Government to set aside at least $10 million in the upcoming Federal Budget to fund a Local Disaster Resilience Program.
The Centre Alliance MP raised the funding with the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, during a recent meeting in Canberra after writing to the Minister earlier this year.
“One aspect that is missing from the $2 billion set aside for the National Bushfire Recovery fund is funding for smaller scale, practical projects that are community-initiated and delivered by communities to meet particular needs they have identified themselves,” Rebekha said.
“The fund does have a community and wellbeing grants component but that is focussed on mental health and resilience.
“I would like to see the Government introduce a grant scheme similar to the Stronger Communities Program, which allocates $150,000 per electorate for up to 20 small capital projects.
“A new Local Disaster Resilience Program could allocate perhaps $250,000 to share in any electorate that has experienced a natural disaster in the past five years, whether that is fire, flood or cyclone.
“This program would be designed to build community capacity and encourage communities to engage with each other and take responsibility at a local level for their preparedness.
“For example, in my electorate the Scott Creek community used their own fundraising and grants to set up a community recovery trailer, with a generator, lights and food, to help out in the event of a bushfire or extended power outage.”
Rebekha said the Minister had given her request a positive hearing and a commitment to have his Department investigate the program.
“Given the recent floods on the East Coast that are coming on the back of the Black Summer Bushfires and the drought, I remain hopeful that the Government will look seriously at instigating this grassroots program and announcing it in the Budget in May,” Rebekha said.
“The Stronger Communities Program is extremely popular because communities can access relatively small amounts of funding for capital projects that mean a great deal at a local level.
“Everyone has a role to play in building community resilience.
“The best thing government can do is empower communities to help themselves. I believe setting up a local disaster resilience program will encourage local initiatives.
“I call on the Government to consider setting aside funds in the Budget for this valuable program to build our community capacity for the coming bushfires, the coming disasters, that we know will happen in Australia.”