New fund offers long-term support for rural communities after a disaster
11 September 2019 at 5:14 pm
Australian rural communities are suffering from an increasing number of climate-related disasters. But with financial support often only available in the immediate aftermath of an event, a new dedicated fund is looking to aid communities in their long-term recovery.
The Foundation for Rural Regional & Rural Renewal (FRRR) on Wednesday launched a fund offering flexible, fit-for-purpose funding helping regional and remote communities prepare for and recover from natural disasters.
Australia has been rocked by a rise in climate-related disasters, including prolonged droughts and floods, in recent years.
In Queensland alone, there have been 77 disaster events since February 2011, creating $14 billion worth of damage to public infrastructure.
Deloitte Access Economics research estimates the cost of disasters will rise to $39 billion a year by 2050.
Natalie Egleton, FRRR’s CEO, said localised disasters often didn’t make the news and attract the same donor response as major disasters, even though the impact on the community could be just as significant.
She added that support was only usually offered in the immediate aftermath of an incident, not in the following 12 to 18 months when community-level needs often emerged.
“The Disaster Resilience and Recovery Fund means every donation can have a long-term impact for communities,” Egleton said.
“The funding will ensure that relevant, accessible and flexible grant support is there for rural, regional and remote communities in preparing for and recovering from natural disasters.”
This fund will be invested in perpetuity alongside FRRR’s corpus, with annual returns available to support locally-led preparedness and disaster recovery programs in affected communities.
Egleton said disasters cost the Australian economy billions of dollars a year in repair bills and also had untold costs on the health and wellbeing of people in rural and regional areas.
“It makes sense to invest in preparedness initiatives. There’s strong evidence that being better connected and better prepared as a community aids recovery if there is a disaster,” she said.
The first contribution to the fund comes from Aussie Farmers Foundation, which donated $500,000.
Aussie Farmers Foundation board member Julia Hunter said the organisation was delighted to be a founding partner of the initiative, which will have funding available from July 2020.
She said the donation reflected the foundation’s commitment to ensuring rural and regional Australia could access resources when needed and recover from disasters.
“We share FRRR’s belief that the best way to support our rural and regional communities requires a collaborative approach, respecting that local people are best placed to know what will work in their communities,” Hunter said.