A story from Western NSW, reflecting life in September 2020
The Mid-Western Regional Council area of NSW encompasses a lot of territory: 8,500 square kilometres of rural land that includes the cities of Mudgee, Gulgong, Kandos and Rylstone.
More than 255,000 hectares burnt in the Black Summer bushfires with many properties damaged and destroyed. As a result, the Mid-Western Region was declared a natural disaster area.
“The Australian Government has provided grant funding to assist in the recovery effort,” said Brad Cam, Mid-Western Regional Council General Manager. “As part of the recovery effort, we appointed a Bushfire Liaison Officer to work directly with affected residents.”
To help the most severely bushfire-impacted Local Government Areas (LGAs) to quickly rebuild vital infrastructure and strengthen community resilience following the bushfires, the Australian Government provided payments to local councils under the LGA Grants Program. Mid-Western Regional Council has received $1.275 million.
With this funding, the Council has supported rate relief for every landholder directly impacted by fire. This was an extension of the NSW Government support for those who had lost their homes and included any property owner who experienced damage to property and infrastructure (e.g. fences, outbuildings, pasture).
“Council identified this initiative as a way of ensuring impacted residents had access to funds - on average $900 per property - which could be directed towards recovery activities which were not supported through other funding programs,” said Alayna Gleeson, Mid-Western Regional Council Bushfire Liaison Officer.
“One particular family found that their drinking water supply was contaminated with fire retardant which was dropped from aircraft fighting the fire so they used the money they saved on their rates to clean their tanks and purchase drinking water to replace what was contaminated,” said Ms Gleeson.
“Other families will use the rate relief funding to assist with the removal of fire affected trees on private property and also support fence clearing activities in order to repair damaged fences.”
The Council is also investing the LGA Grants Program funding in a range of other initiatives including upgrading local halls damaged in the bushfires, and community wellbeing events.