Bushfire-affected communities across East Gippsland and Victoria’s North East are to receive $8-million in funding to grow jobs, create apprenticeships, attract more visitors and help farms become more resilient.
The announcement was made yesterday (Thursday) by the Commonwealth Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud and Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Lisa Neville.
Give them the tools for the future
According to the statement, the grants will support the next steps in the region’s long-term economic recovery after last season’s bushfires.
“With tens of millions in grants already provided directly to farmers and small businesses to help them re-establish their enterprises, we now have to look ahead and give them the tools, skills and specialist services they need to make the right decisions and prepare for the future,” Littleproud said.
Neville said the funding will also benefit groups hardest hit by Covid-19. “We’re promoting regional and cultural tourism, providing mentoring and microfinance access to sole traders, creating 40 new apprenticeship and traineeship positions for young people, and helping Aboriginal communities establish new industries,” she said.
On-farm Recovery Support Services
Regional economic recovery programs funded as part of the Australian and Victorian Governments’ $68.6-million Local Economic Recovery program (LER) include $2.1-million for On-farm Recovery Support Services.
These link farmers with dedicated agricultural recovery experts to assist with pasture recovery, ground cover management and revegetation, soil health, erosion, farm water supplies and quality, risk and resilience planning (including fire preparedness), and mental health and wellbeing.
There is also $2-million for the Gippsland and High-Country Visitor Reactivation Program. This will provide additional funds for Tourism North East and Destination Gippsland for industry support and promotion after the bushfires and the pandemic.
Apprenticeship and traineeship positions
In addition, $1,3-million has been allocated for the Victorian Apprenticeship Bushfire Recovery Program to create 40 new apprenticeship and traineeship positions for young people in East Gippsland and the North East.
The LER program provides funding for projects to boost the long-term economy of fire-affected areas. Applications have now closed for LER grants of up to $5-million for major economic stimulus projects, and a round of local community project grants of up to $2-million.
Bushfire Recovery Victoria received 34 applications for local community project grants, with results to be announced soon, the joint statement said.