Grants of up to $15,000 are on offer for eligible community organisations in Queensland and NSW towns affected by a massive 2017 cyclone, Andrew Sadauskas reports.

A Queensland motorist stuck in floodwaters following Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) has made more than $240,000 available to help communities impacted by Cyclone Debbie, as part of its Repair-Restore Renew program.

Tropical Cyclone Debbie cut a path of destruction across rural Queensland and NSW after it first made landfall near Airlie Beach on 28 March 2017, with the storm and its related flooding eventually leading to 14 deaths and an estimated damage bill of around $3.5 billion.

Not-for-profits in communities affected by the cyclone are invited to apply for grants of between $100 to $15,000 each for projects that will support ongoing recovery efforts, increase the resilience and capacity of community groups, or create new opportunities for partnership, enterprise and leadership.

Communities eligible for the grants include Mackay, Isaac, Livingstone, Rockhampton, Whitsunday, Gold Coast, Logan and Scenic Rim in Queensland; along with Ballina, Byron, Clarence Valley, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley, Tenterfield, and Tweed in NSW.

Funding for the grants program has been provided by Australia Post, ANZ, Aussie Farmers Foundation and John T Reid Charitable Trusts, along with the support of many hundreds of individual donors.

In a statement, FRRR disaster recovery and resilience manager Janet Phillips said the grants aim to meet medium to long-term needs that FRRR knows from experience will have emerged in the 12 months since the disaster.

“Disasters have long-lasting effects and communities need support long after the immediate recovery following the impact. That’s why we start distributing grants 12-18 months after a disaster,” Phillips said.

“This gives communities the time to understand what they now need and plan to ensure that social and physical infrastructure is appropriate, sustainable and will meet the future needs of the community.

“We recently visited a number of communities in Queensland and northern NSW that were impacted by Cyclone Debbie. It’s very clear many people are still dealing with their personal recovery and some local leaders have identified projects that will support long-term recovery and benefit the whole community.”

The program has broad funding guidelines in order to allow affected communities to determine for themselves the services they need. Potential projects include:

  • Small community events that bring people together, community arts projects that help to renew public places.
  • Workshops that provide a way for people to express their experiences.
  • Environmental projects such as improved walking tracks to support tourism.
  • Repairing community halls and meeting places to help people connect.
  • Improvements to communication channels, disaster preparedness activities or infrastructure to ensure communities can respond better if there is a similar event in future.

FRRR has distributed a total of more than $65 million in funds to rural, regional and remote Australian communities since its formation.

Disaster preparedness is also set to be a key priority for the organisation going forward, with FRRR recently launching a pilot of its Disaster Resilient: Future Ready program, which will help three NSW communities develop risk management plans.

Prospective applicants should carefully read the guidelines available on the FRRR website before submitting an application.  If needed, applicants may speak with a member of the Repair-Restore-Renew Program team at FRRR on 1800 170 020 or by emailing recovery@frrr.org.au.

Applications for the Repair-Restore-Renew program close 5pm Monday, 18 June 2018. Visit www.frrr.org.au/RRR for more details.

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