Burnett Mary Regional Group (BMRG) will receive $3.2M over three years through the Australian Government’s Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants Program, announced last week.

More than 35 significant bush, vegetation and grass fires were recorded throughout the Burnett Mary region between October 2019 and January 2020. It was estimated that more than 48 000 hectares were burnt, causing significant damage to pasture, grazing lands and natural habitat.

BMRG CEO, Sheila Charlesworth, said the funding is greatly appreciated and will be used to support a range of activities to be delivered in partnership with local organisations that will benefit the region.

“The nature and severity of fires have been changing. They are more frequent, more threatening and riskier to people and properties. To prevent and minimise adverse effects on communities BMRG will partner with local organisationsto deliver several projects in the region. Together we will help rebuild community connectivity and increase capacity and resilience.

“In addition to expanding the use of technology for fire detection, we will run workshops for landholders focusing on bushfire prevention and preparedness so they can understand various levels of risk and make decisions on how to prepare, act and survive during a bushfire event. They’ll be able to create a farm fire management plan and learn how to apply strategies to reduce fire risk. We’ll also provide an online hub to assist landholders with emergency planning.

“In partnership with Traditional Owners, we’ll run practical cool burn workshops at different landscapes. We’ll also support further training and equipment for Traditional Owners in cool burning techniques and the use of drones to monitor and map fire intensity, which will help them increase their capacity to deliver cultural burns for landholders.

“We will also work with the team at Camp Gregory, a nationally recognised facility for the recovery and recreation of war veterans which was isolated during recent fires. People’s safety was compromised when the only evacuation option was via the river and that wasn’t possible due to lack of infrastructure and environmental damage. We will work with them to install emergency infrastructure and necessary streambank erosion remediation,” Ms Charlesworth said.

The grants support medium to long-term recovery for communities, funding projects that support ongoing unmet community, social, economic and built environment recovery and resilience needs.

The Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants Program was boosted to $390M to further support communities to recover from the 2019-20 bushfires. The Australian Government provided an additional $111M for- the program to ensure that all recommended projects could be funded.