New bushfire recovery funding focused on economic rebuild in the Blue Mountain
11 projects, worth over $12 million, have been approved under stage 2 of the Morrison and Berejiklian Government’s Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund (BLER), continuing the long-term recovery effort from the 2019-20 bushfires in the Blue Mountains.
Of the 11 projects, there is a particular focus on economic recovery, with $4 million for a new clifftop bush-walking trail of 13.6 kilometres in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and over $2.6 million for a comprehensive destination management program.
Liberal Senator for Western Sydney, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, said all 11 projects had been put forward by the community, with funding for local solutions to local needs.
“At the outset of the devastating bushfires, we promised our government would work alongside communities on their recovery journey, with this latest funding a further example of delivering on that commitment,” Senator Payne said.
“We understand that a thriving small business community and the steady flow of tourism is essential, as it was before, to the post-bushfire Blue Mountains economy.
“This BLER funding further secures our economic recovery while simultaneously funding important community-led projects which boost resilience and emergency preparedness.”
The Hon. Shayne Mallard MLC, Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and the Aerotropolis and Blue Mountains resident, said the Blue Mountains had been hit hard in the last two years with the catastrophic bushfires and the continuing COVID pandemic.
“I’m glad to see the much needed financial support being provided to our resilient community.”
“The Blue Mountains community is still recovering after the 2019/20 bushfires. This funding will help aid this recovery and also the preparedness for the next bushfire season.”
Projects approved in the Blue Mountains LGA include:
Improve drainage for the Blackheath Golf Course Retention Dam
The Blackheath Golf Course Retention Dam is part of the strategic firefighting infrastructure in the Upper Blue Mountains, and was a frequently used source of water during the 2019-2020 bushfires. This project involves the construction of a new drainage system that will divert stormwater into the dam, significantly improving its capacity. This will support firefighting activities in the vicinity of Blackheath and the Upper Blue Mountains region and strengthen the community's resilience to future natural disasters.
Revitalise the Blue Mountains Visitor Economy
The Blue Mountains Visitor Economy Revitalisation Project is a two-year destination management program that will reinstate the Blue Mountains as a key tourist destination in NSW and Australia. The project is critical to the recovery of the Blue Mountains from the 2019/2020 bushfires, which devastated the local community and tourism economy. It involves destination branding, marketing, website development, major events, industry communications, and a business resilience program.
Creating a resilient community
This project will deliver workshops, educational sessions, preparedness activities, and other innovative events in the Blackheath area. These activities will focus on building and maintaining community and individual resilience, connectedness, preparedness, and wellbeing. The project will strengthen relationships within the community across organisations, groups and individuals to create improved resilience to future disaster events.
Create a business and community hub in the Blue Mountains
This project establishes a place-based business community resilience hub in the Blue Mountains to support self-sufficiency and long-term resilience by capturing and sharing existing knowledge. This project will be a collaboration between the corporate2community (C2C) social enterprise and the regional business chamber, BusinessBM. The hub will also develop resilience-focused learning programs for local businesses.
The Grand Cliff Top Walk
This project will develop a clifftop bush-walking trail of 13.6 kilometres in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. This project will deliver a major tourism drawcard for the region and is a joint initiative of Blue Mountains City Council and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Extend Mt Wilson Rural Fire Brigade Station
This project will extend Mt Wilson Rural Fire Brigade Station to enhance its effectiveness as an emergency hub during natural disasters.
Restore bushland and enrich local leadership
This project will restore and protect fire-affected bushland, identify environmental and social needs for recovery, and deliver enrichment programs for local leaders.
Establish Resilience and Recovery Hub
This project will build on bushfire and resilience programs that have been operational since 2013 at the Springwood Neighbourhood Centre. This will include developing a directory of support services; offering workshops; and reinforcing links with emergency services, employment agencies, education providers, and mental health services. To achieve this, the project will employ five staff members, hire a venue for workshops, and undertake an awareness campaign.
Provide practical support to bushfire-affected members of the Blue Mountains community
This project offers practical support to bushfire-impacted communities in the Blue Mountains. Habitat for Humanity will work alongside vulnerable residents and volunteers to clear burned debris and fire prone vegetation; provide minor building repairs; and prepare homes and properties for bushfires. This project will also establish Community Bushfire Committees to connect residents, disseminate information on preparedness, and assist each other in the event of a disaster.
Improve infrastructure for isolated Blue Mountains communities
This project will improve community facilities within the isolated communities of Mount Wilson, Mount Irvine and Mount Tomah. This will include additions to Mt Wilson Hall; installation of a new toilet at Founders Corner and Silva Plana; the renewal of Mount Irvine Community Court; and the installation of water tanks in Mt Tomah. The project will improve resilience to natural disasters, improve local social well-being, as well as community and visitor infrastructure.
Restoring country, culture and community
The Great Eastern Ranges (GER) will work with its established regional partner networks to support the recovery of bushfire-impacted communities in the North Coast, the Blue Mountains, the South Coast, and the Far South Coast. The project will include employing rangers; assessing cultural and wildlife sites; a survey of local fauna populations; the installation of nest boxes; community engagement projects; and more.
These projects are the latest to be announced as part of a joint investment of more than $500 million in Local Economic Recovery, jointly funded by the Australian and NSW governments to support locally led bushfire recovery initiatives.
Funding for LER projects is just one of the initiatives supported by the Australian Government’s National Bushfire Recovery Fund.
To date, the Blue Mountains has received over $42 million in direct economic and financial support, including:
- 1,271 businesses having received the $10,000 Small Business Grants, representing over $12 million;
- 9,053 individuals have received Disaster Recovery Payments, representing over $10 million;
- 38 properties have been cleared to a cost of over $2.7 million; and
- Blue Mountains City Council received an emergency standalone payment of $1.3 million to repair damaged infrastructure and boost community resilience;
More than $2.3 billion in Australian Government support has been provided to help bushfire affected communities, including $1.6 billion spent so far from the National Bushfire Recovery Fund. Over 80 per cent of the available funding has been used to help communities recover from the 2019-20 bushfires.
Details of successful local economic recovery projects in New South Wales – and across other states - are available on the National Recovery and Resilience Agency website at http://www.recovery.gov.au/our-community/local-bushfire-recovery-projects.