News Roundup Easter 2021

A Very Quiet Bushfire Season

Last Wednesday marked the official end to the quietest fire season in more than a decade, reported the Young Witness.

NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) Commissioner Rob Rogers said this bush fire season had been welcome change in terms of fire activity, property damage and hours committed by volunteer firefighters.

“Firefighters have responded to just over 5500 bush and grass fires burning 30,963 hectares across NSW, considerably less than the 11,400 fires and 5.5 million hectares lost last season,” Commissioner Rogers said.

“There has been just 11 days of total fire bans compared to 60 days last season, marking the quietest bush fire season since 2010/11.

Commissioner Rogers said that despite the low level of fire activity this season, NSWRFS members had been kept busy over recent weeks assisting flood affected communities across the state.

“Time and time again when called upon, our members have stepped up to help,” he said. “As communities up and down the coast were inundated by flood waters, our firefighters were there to help, both on the ground and in the air.

“I am humbled by their want to serve locally and the broader NSW community.

“To see hundreds of our firefighters travelling across the state to help communities in need is testament to their dedication and commitment.

Commission Rogers said that despite the low instances of bush and grass fires across the season high grass fuel loads remained west of the divide.ADVERTISING

“Over the coming weeks and months crews will begin hazard reduction burning when weather opportunities are more favourable to reduce these fuel loads.

“It is vital for people living near Bush Fire Prone Land to not become complacent and to ensure they take the time now to clear, prepare and maintain their properties.”

While Fire Permits are not required, property owners conducting private hazard reduction burns are usually required to have a Hazard Reduction Certificate before lighting up. Hazard Reduction Certificates are free and can be obtained from NSW RFS Fire Control Centres.

“While firefighting agencies will be looking to conduct as many hazard reduction activities as possible, I encourage landholders to do the same.”

Fears $10 million in grants was paid to fraudsters

Sky News reported that almost $10 million in grants set aside for bushfire victims, drought-stricken farmers, and pandemic affected businesses may have been paid to fraudsters. In figures unveiled by the New South Wales government, $6.4 million paid out to the Small Business Bushfire Support Grant scheme has been deemed suspicious. Questions have also been raised about $1.9 million allocated under the Small Business COVID-19 Support Grant program.

Volunteer firefighter Scott Hart nominated for Braidwood Biggies award

Scott and Nicole Hart with Shane Fitzsimmons

The RiotACT reported that Scott Hart’s spirit of going above and beyond and giving back to the community has been recognised with his nomination for a Biggies award this year.

The Braidwood Community Bank customer relationship manager was just 16-years-old when he joined the local Rural Fire Service (RFS) 40 years ago, with his mates, to help the community.

A humble Mr Hart says the Biggies nomination is a recognition of the ongoing efforts of the district, the Braidwood Community Bank and the RFS over the years.

“I have been picked out from a group of people who have done so much over time and I would not have been able to do all that I have done without their support,” he said.

Biggies awards have been launched by the Business Council of Australia (BCA) to recognise the positive contribution made by people and their businesses to the community.

Talking about the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires, Mr Hart said that it was an experience that no one saw coming.

“It really stretched the resources and we were grateful to the other RFS brigades and anyone else that came on board to help us. When the pressure was on, Braidwood pulled together as a community to work side-by-side for the good of everyone,” he said.

“No two fires are the same. The main thing to do is to look after the people because property can be insured. We need to make sure that we are not putting ourselves at risk. Instead of charging in, we are balancing that risk.”

The Braidwood Community Bank customer manager was in the office for only 15 days between mid-November and February. He was at the fire front battling fires at Grafton, Lake Macquarie and later in Braidwood.

He was supported by the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s unlimited leave policy for volunteers.

“The policy helped me to be at the fire front with the RFS team without having to worry about the financial side of things and helped me get out there and keep on doing what was important and needed to be done,” he said.

Scott Hart and Craig Pettit

Braidwood Community Bank customer relationship manager Scott Hart with CEO Craig Pettit..

The outstanding efforts of RFS Captain Scott Hart and his crew were acknowledged and they received the NSW Premier’s Bushfire Emergency Citation in 2020.

“It was humbling to be a part of the group that was acknowledged by the Premier. You don’t do things for acknowledgement but it is special to get acknowledgment from the state,” he said.

A colleague and fellow RFS volunteer Simon Disney said that few firefighters worked as hard through the summer as Captain Hart and his crew to earn the NSW Premier’s Bushfire Emergency Citation.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s Managing Director Marnie Baker recognises Mr Hart’s efforts and said that his contributions and the support of his colleagues at the Braidwood Community Bank, undoubtedly saved lives and continues to assist in the recovery of severely fire-affected communities.

Mr Hart, who has been a part of the RFS for the last 40 years, encourages everyone to volunteer whether it is with RFS, State Emergency Service (SES) or any other organisations.

“It gives you much more than what you give,” he added.

In referring to the Braidwood Community Bank, Mr Hart said that the staff are locals and well entrenched in the community.

He said under the model, banking profits are split between the community bank company and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank with most of their profits going back into the community through grants and donations.

Bushfire council raises concerns about fire protection in new suburbs

Orroral Valley bushfire

The RiotACT reported that Orroral Valley bushfire sparked the ACT’s first state of emergency under the Emergencies Act 2004, in January 2020. Photo: ACT Emergency Services Agency.

The ACT Government is working to sure up the Territory’s ability to respond to natural disasters, and is keeping one eye on construction standards in bushfire-prone areas such as Denman Prospect.

ACT Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman said the government will ensure that all developments at Denman Prospect meet or exceed fire management standards in a response to recommendations from the ACT Bushfire Council.

The Bushfire Council said it is concerned about the adequacy of fire protection measures for new suburbs on the western and northern sides of Canberra in a report delivered to Minister Gentleman in November 2020.

“Recent risk modelling work … shows that bushfires under catastrophic conditions would result in some existing Denman Prospect houses being destroyed, and that these risks increase in the currently undeveloped areas to the west and north of Stage 1,” said the report.

The ACT Government said the planning and development of the suburb has involved heavy consultation from the ACT Emergency Services Agency and the ACT Parks and Conservation Service since 2014.

Extensive asset protection zones, access roads, water supplies and building construction requirements have been put in place to mitigate the risk posed by bushfires.

Mick Gentleman at press conference

ACT Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman has released the ACT Government’s response to both the royal commission and ACT Bushfire Council recommendations one day apart. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

“These protection measures will help significantly reduce the bushfire risk for Denman Prospect, noting that residents should still consult our bushfire prone area map and have a survival plan in place,” said the government’s response.

The ACT Government also agreed to support a national construction code to make buildings more disaster resilient and to consider future disaster risks when making planning decisions for new developments in its response to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.

The government released its response to the royal commission a day after its response to the ACT Bushfire Council and supports all of the commission’s recommendations. It also agreed or agreed in principle with all of the Bushfire Council’s 18 recommendations and said it has already completed four.

The royal commission’s recommendations also included a national register of fire and emergency services personnel and equipment; better emergency communication across jurisdictions; a public safety mobile broadband network; better data availability and sharing; and prioritising mental health during and after natural disasters.

“The royal commission underscored the importance of collaboration across jurisdictions and we are building on our strong working relationships with other states,” said Minister Gentleman.

“The ACT is well prepared for bushfires and I would like to remind and encourage all Canberrans to regularly review their disaster survival plans.”

Nerriga community rallies to host thank you day for emergency services

PRIDE OF PLACE: Rural Fire Service vehicles take pride of place in front of the Nerriga Hotel during the
 PRIDE OF PLACE: Rural Fire Service vehicles take pride of place in front of the Nerriga Hotel during the “Thank You Day”. Photo Shane Fitzsimmons Facebook

Thank you – they are two simple words

But two words that can mean so much.

And thank you was certainly the theme of a special function at Nerriga on Saturday, reported the South Coast Register.

The small village, west of Nowra, was ravaged in 2019-20 bushfires, with the community coming together to say thank you, especially to the many Rural Fire Service crews and first responders who fought so gallantly to save the community.

The “Nerriga Thank You Day” was more than 12 months in the planning.

Initially planned for last year, the event had to be postponed due to the COVID outbreak.

BIG EVENT: Part of the crowd enjoying the Nerriga Thank You Day . Photo Shane Fitzsimmons Facebook

At the height of the bushfire emergency the Nerriga Hotel became the sanctuary as the devastating Tianjara bushfire descended on the town, with more than 30 people evacuated to the pub.

Sarah Smith, who owns the hotel with her husband Phil, said the day was “superb” and a “great healing event for the community”.

“The whole event was aimed for the community to simply say thank you to all those firefighters and first responders who not only fought hard to initially save the village but then continued to be part of our recovery day after day,” Mrs Smith said.

“We had hoped to have more of our emergency service personnel here, but as is their way, many had either suffered flood damage themselves or were off volunteering helping with the flood emergency.

“After being put off due to COVID last year, this was just the chance for the community to say thank you to all those brave people who put their lives at risk to help us.”

Along with the overwhelming community support, the day was also made possible after the Nerriga Progress and Sporting Association secured grant funding following the fires from Cooridinare.

“We had an organising committee of community members who worked hard to initially have this event last year and then worked again to get things organised again after being cancelled due to COVID.

THANKS: Nerriga RFS Captain, Justin Par addresses the crowd at the the Nerriga Thank You Day.

 THANKS: Nerriga RFS Captain, Justin Par addresses the crowd at the the Nerriga Thank You Day.

“This was just a way for the community to thank all the RFS, SES, heavy plant machine operators, water cart drivers, police, paramedics and everyone involved in keeping Nerriga and its surrounding localities safe.”

President of the Nerriga Progress and Sporting Association Helen Rolland, Nerriga RFS captain Justin Par and Phil Smith all made speeches during the event.

Steven Speed from the Fortune of War Hotel in Sydney presented the community with $20,000 on behalf of the Sydney City Liquor Accord, which is made up of 300 city pubs, to be used for the benefit of the community.

The day included live entertainment, activities for the kids and a wonderful array of food.

LocalMARCH 30, 2021 10:58 AM AEDTShare

Recovery Taskforce weekend blitz accelerates flood clean-up

Flood clean-up at Riverside Park

Mirage News reported that the combined Recovery Taskforce has been hard at work this weekend to return Kempsey Shire to normal as quickly as possible.

The recovery effort is being coordinated by local senior personnel from NSW Police Force, Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW), Rural Fire Service (RFS), SES, Australian Defence Force (ADF), Resilience NSW and Kempsey Shire Council.

ADF, Fire and Rescue and Council crews were cleaning roads, bridges and schools to allow them to be safe and accessible again.

Council and ADF completed the pothole fill at Stuarts Point, Grassy Head and Fisherman’s Reach. They were washing the sludge from bridges, Rudder and Fourth Streets as they emerge from floodwater. Work also started on Summer Island Road, South West Rocks and Arakoon.

Getting schools ready to open on Monday was a priority so all schools were inspected by Fire and Rescue. At Smithtown Public School, the crews cleaned and bleached all the classrooms that had mould growth. They also replaced sandpit sand and mulched the gardens.

RFS crews completed washout and clearing at Smithtown and Gladstone while ADF crews delivered 120 bales of hay down Maria River Rd through water up to a metre deep

Closer to town, work was done to clear and restore Riverside Park. The ADF and FRNSW were clearing debris, installing new softfall and spreading fresh woodchips for the play areas.

Local lands services worked with landholders to assess and plan for disposal of deceased animals. More than 300 properties were assessed with almost 40 being classed as inhabitable.

On Friday, Rapid Response engineers and Council staff did a helicopter assessment of roads and bridges upriver where cars could not access using advanced RFS imaging technology.

Kempsey Shire Council Mayor, Liz Campbell, said she would like to extend her appreciation and gratitude on behalf of the Council and residents of Kempsey Shire to all the agencies and workers who are contributing to the recovery effort.

Cr Campbell said, “The Recovery Taskforce agencies have been working tirelessly to complete extraordinary work throughout the Shire.”

“It has been a privilege to see the coordination and cooperation of so many agencies working for a single purpose.

“There is still work to be done, but with the Recovery Taskforce and the resilience of the people in Kempsey Shire, we will come through this disaster stronger together.”

To keep updated with all the recovery efforts check out the Council’s website or Facebook page.

Australian Fire Fighting Boeing 737 Damaged In Hangar Collision

Simple Flying reported that a Boeing 737-300 water bomber aircraft on lease to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service suffered extensive nose damage on Tuesday after crashing into a hangar door. The plane is part of a fleet of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters that help fight wildfires across New South Wales and Australia.

A NSW Rural Fire Service 737-300 water bomber after colliding with a hangar door yesterday. Source: NSW Rural Fire Service

Boeing 737-300 sustains nose and engine damage

According to a SkyNews report, the Boeing 737-300 Marie Bashir (registration N138CG), was taxiing across the apron at RAAF Richmond outside Sydney when the incident occurred. The aircraft hit a hangar door, damaging the nose and an engine. There were no injuries. But pictures of the damaged plane on social media do suggest extensive nose damage.

The aircraft has rolled into a hangar, sustaining damage to the aircraft and the building,‘ a Rural Fire Service spokesperson told Simple Flying.

Along with a Cessna Citation bird-dog, N138CG is one of two Boeing 737-300 water bombers contracted to the New South Wales Rural Firefighting Service by Coulson Aviation. Coulson is providing the aircraft, crews, and maintenance services under a 10-year contract. The Cessna Citation and the Boeings work as a team. The smaller plane flies in first to get a handle on the nature and scope of the wildfire, radioing that information back to a nearby orbiting Boeing.

Engine damage on the water bomber. NSW Rural Fire Service

Depending on the terrain, the 737-300s will sweep in as low as 50 meters to dump water on the fire. That calls for a particular skill set. In addition to the Boeings, the Rural Fire Service has more than 100 call-when-needed and contracted aircraft available to it. They form the single largest aerial fleet of any fire agency in Australia.

The two 737-300 water bombers at based at RAAF Richmond, 50 kilometers northwest of Sydney. The first time the water bombers were used was in late 2018. One of the 737-300s dropped several loads of retardant on wildfires threatening Newcastle, just north of Sydney.  At the time, New South Wales at the end of a prolonged drought. Much of the countryside was very dry – “tinderbox conditions” as the locals call it.

Water bombers prove their worth

One year later, the decision to take the water bombers paid off. The planes made international headlines helping out during the extensive east coast wildfires in late 2019. Coulson Aviation Australia is the first aerial firefighting company in the world to modify Boeing 737s into approved firefighting planes. The modification required over 43,000 hours of labor by over 100 aircraft workers.

N138CG is nearly 26 years old. In her former life, she flew Southwest Airlines passengers around the United States as N608SW. Coulson Aviation acquired the plane in 2017.

Coulson Aviation is building a decent business converting former passenger planes into water bombers and is flexible about the configurations. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service wanted a water bomber with the capacity to move firefighters around. So after the conversion, in addition to carrying 72 passengers, the modified 737-300s can hold 15,150 liters of water in their tanks. Shortly after the conversion and delivery to the Rural Fire Service, Coulson Aviation said;

“With a full retardant load and 4.5 hours of fuel we are so far under max gross weight we are going to leave the full interior and galleys in even when just in air tanker mode.”

The Rural Fire Service says the Boeing 737-300 will stay on the ground until repaired. They have launched an investigation into the incident.

MP Adam Marshall joins Armidale Regional Council and NSW RFS Deputy Commissioner Peter McKechnie at the New England Airbase Precinct to take delivery

PARK HER OUT THE BACK: Handing over the keys to the fire tankers worth $780,000 on Sunday. Photo: supplied.
 PARK HER OUT THE BACK: Handing over the keys to the fire tankers worth $780,000 on Sunday. Photo: supplied.

The Armidale Express reported that the NSW RFS Deputy Commissioner Peter McKechnie joined Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall , council staff and other guests at the New England Airbase Precinct to officially hand over the keys of the new tanker and recognise long-serving members.

Mr Marshall said the new tankers, worth nearly $780,000, would enable these brigades to strengthen their firefighting efforts across the community with New England’s new Cat 6 water tanker, providing back up water for the airbase and across the region in fire emergencies.

“While the previous tankers have served these brigades well, I am confident these new state-of-the-art vehicles will prove to be invaluable assets to the area,” Mr Marshall said.ADVERTISING

“The NSW Government’s ongoing investment in new vehicles ensures NSW RFS members have access to modern firefighting technology when responding to fires and other incidents.”

EVERYDAY HEROES: RFS long service award recipients on Sunday. Photo: supplied.
 EVERYDAY HEROES: RFS long service award recipients on Sunday. Photo: supplied.

The event also provided an opportunity to recognise 55 members of the New England Zone who had together amassed 1,350 years of service to the NSW RFS.

“Today we awarded long service medals and/or clasps to dedicated volunteers who had given between 10 and 60 years’ of service to the community,” Deputy Commissioner McKechnie said.

“These men and women remain on-hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we should be extremely proud and grateful for their contribution.

“In particular, considering the magnitude of the 2019/2020 bushfires and the floods we are now experiencing, I would like to congratulate everybody on their ongoing hard work and professionalism.

“We also thank the family, friends, employers and colleagues of all NSW RFS volunteers.

“We know it takes their ongoing support and patience to assist and enable our volunteers to do what they do to save lives and property.”

Bushfire-affected residents call for coronial inquest into Namadgi’s Orroral Valley bushfire

Tony Weston and Nina Clarke
Tony Weston and Nina Clarke say they have “ongoing trauma” from the Orroral Valley bushfire.(ABC News: Peta Doherty)

The ABC reported that residents near the ACT-NSW border who lost their homes in a bushfire sparked by an Australian Army helicopter have pleaded with the ACT government and the ACT Coroners Court to hold an inquest into the blaze.

About 80 per cent of Namadgi National Park was scorched alongside homes in Bumbalong, an hour south of Canberra, when the Orroral Valley inferno swept through the region in January last year.

The blaze was accidentally sparked by a landing light aboard a MRH-90 Taipan military helicopter, but the ABC previously revealed that the crew did not report the fire’s location to ACT authorities for 45 minutes.

The delay meant by the time emergency services located the blaze, the flames had moved into nearby woodland. It would go on to jump the border into NSW and destroy properties.

The ACT government confirmed it received a letter from fire-affected residents on Monday calling for a coronial inquest, but said it needed more time to consider its response.

Nina Clarke and Tony Weston
Tony Weston recently lost his leg in a tractor accident thanks to his “paranoia” about keeping the grass low.

Residents on a quest for answers

Some of the residents wanting answers are volunteer rural firefighter Tony Weston and his partner Nina Clarke, whose home was gutted by the flames as they swept across the ACT border into NSW.

Their property was uninsured and the pair now live in a demountable preschool with no running water and a makeshift kitchen.

The couple said they has been so traumatised by the fire that Mr Weston had been “paranoid” and consistently clearing grass from around their property.

But, just before Christmas, that “ongoing trauma” led to a farming accident when Mr Weston was run over by his tractor while mowing the grass.

One of his legs was so badly damaged it had to be amputated, as did the big toe on his remaining foot.

Ms Clarke said while nobody else was to blame for her partner’s accident, it showed they were “not over the ongoing trauma of the fire”.

An aerial photograph of a spreading patch of fire in bushland, with masses of smoke rising from the fire.
A photograph taken from the Defence helicopter that began the Orroral Valley fire, just moments after it was accidentally set.(Supplied: Department Of Defence)

The couple, along with other Bumbalong landholders, sent the letter to the ACT Attorney General Shane Rattenbury on Monday calling for a coronial inquest into the “cause, origin and response” to the Orroral Valley fire.

Mr Weston said he wanted to know why those onboard the helicopter that started the blaze did not alert authorities about the fire’s location for 45 minutes — a question he believes can be answered only through an inquest.

“I know nothing about Army helicopters, but I mean surely they had enough communication gear on board,” he said.

“Surely the chopper could have got up off the ground to a safe height and got straight onto the radio, and pinpointed where the fire was rather than waiting 45 minutes — and 45 minutes in that sort of country, in those sort of conditions, that’s a hell of a long time for the fire to get away.”

ACT Government Minister Simon Corbell
Former ACT emergency services minister Simon Corbell called for an inquest into the Orroral Valley Bushfire last year.(ABC News: Greg Nelson)

Inquest into ’cause, origin and response’

It is not the first time a call for a coronial inquest into the Orroral Valley fire has come before the government.

The ACT Volunteer Brigades Association and former ACT emergency services minister Simon Corbell both separately called for a similar inquest into the bushfire last year — both were rejected.

However, in this week’s letter to Mr Rattenbury, residents argued the size and scale of the fire and its impact on property, areas of cultural significance, and the environment warranted the public inquiry.

“We consider it to be in the public interest for an inquiry to be conducted, with a finding of fact to be made and appropriate recommendations given,” the letter said.

Under the Coroners Act, the attorney-general can order the coroner to investigate a fire “that has destroyed or damaged property”.

The chief coroner can also order an inquiry if a fire is one of “public significance” and “there appears to be an issue with the response of responders or other government authorities to the fire”.

Namadgi bushfire on the horizon
The Orroral Valley fire destroyed homes in NSW after jumping across the border from the ACT.(Supplied: Tony C Mathew)

In their letter to the government, residents said the blaze generated significant public interest due to its scale and severity, and the ADF’s involvement in its ignition.

The letter noted much of the full story about the ignition and delay had only been made public through reporting by the ABC.

“Questions have … been raised about whether Defence personnel responded appropriately and as expeditiously as possible following the ignition of the fire,” the letter said.

“An inquiry would ensure that the relevant parties provide full and accurate information to the public in relation to the origin and cause of the fire and will resolve any doubt for families who have lost property and infrastructure.

“A finding of fact by the coroner and the issue of appropriate recommendations will give our clients, and the Australian community generally, a sense of closure, and may prevent similar environmental disasters from occurring in the future.”

Green grass grows around burnt trees.
Green grass now grows around burnt trees in Namadgi National Park more than a year after the blaze.(ABC News: Isaac Nowroozi)

Unanswered questions remain

In a statement Mr Rattenbury confirmed he received the letter, but said he needed more time to consider his response.

“The 2019-20 bushfire season was a very distressing period for our region, particularly for those who suffered loss of property or their homes,” he said.

“I am seeking advice in relation to the letter, so I am not in a position to respond or offer a conclusion at this point. I will respond to the letter once I have received more advice.”

The ACT’s Chief Coroner confirmed she too had received the letter and also said she had not had sufficient time to consider the matter.

The landholder’s lawyer Sam Tierney said an inquest would get to the heart of the issues.

“My clients have particular concern that internal reviews don’t have the openness and transparency that a coronial process will have,” he said.

$700,000 for projects across Snowy Valleys

The Snowy Valleys Council’s cycling masterplan has been funded through a new bushfire recovery funding scheme.

The Tumut and Adlong Times reported that the Snowy Valleys Council, Do It For Batlow, the Talbingo Progress and Ratepayers Association and the Adelong Tennis Club are among hundreds of community organisations awarded funding via a new bushfire recovery funding scheme.

173 community projects around the state are set to receive new funding as part of the Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Fund (BCRRF), provided through the jointly funded Commonwealth-state Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

Five community projects in the Snowy Valleys region have been awarded funding, valued at over $700,000 in total. 

Snowy Valleys Council has been awarded $270,000 for a Regional Connectivity Project.

“The Snowy Valleys Tracks and Trails Project is the development of a comprehensive post-bushfire masterplan to link towns and villages across the LGA to create a cohesive approach to harnessing the opportunities for outdoor recreation, agritourism and art,” the project description reads.

Do It For Batlow have been given $300,000 to develop a Snowy Valleys Resilience Hub, which aims to “provide residents and local industry a place to meet with all levels of agency support; local groups to collectively plan recovery projects; and personnel to help support recovery projects and respond to emerging needs.”

The TPRA have received two grants – the first grant of $48,877 is to replace and update community signage in and around Talbingo, and the second of $88,657 to purchase and install fitness equipment along the community walking path.

Finally, the Adelong Tennis Club has been awarded $30,120 to “replace an unsafe, worn out tennis court so we have a facility for safe physical exercise in an environment that encourages social interaction for the wellbeing of our Adelong and surrounding area communities.”

Snowy Valleys Council mayor James Hayes welcomed the funding announcement.

“Anything that will assist us is gratefully received,” Cr Hayes said. “It will allow to undertake feasibility studies to progress various projects, not all of them by council.

“That includes various trail options and outdoor recreation projects, be it the riverwalk, cycle trails, the proposed wave facility on the Tumut River, or others.”

Minister for Emergency Management, David Littleproud, and NSW Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery, John Barilaro, announced the projects that were awarded funding on Sunday.

“This funding is supporting locally led recovery that focuses on community wellbeing, connectedness, social recovery, and future disaster resilience,” Mr Littleproud said.

Mr Barilaro said the projects would provide an important boost for local communities with a focus on long-term recovery efforts

“This funding will support the ongoing, sustained efforts on the ground as communities continue to rebuild,” he said.

“The Australian and NSW governments have committed $4.4 billion to bushfire recovery with every bushfire affected LGA receiving support. These recovery efforts have been driven by locals who care about their communities and want to make a difference, and we are continuing to assist them through this process.

“The nature of these grants are locally led and diverse, depending on the needs of the communities, with projects targeted at issues like mental health and assisting local businesses.

“The number of high-quality submissions we received is a credit to the ingenuity and resilience of our regions and I am pleased to see more support going out to every corner of our state.”

Wagga-based MLC Wes Fang said the projects “will provide an important boost for the Snowy Valleys as the focus shifts from the provision of immediate assistance towards long-term recovery efforts.”

The funding is being provided via the BCRRF Stream 2, which was open to applications from September 29 2020 to December 11 2020. Stream 1 of the fund provided direct support for impacted councils to deliver locally based projects and community grants programs.

The NSW Government applied best practice to fairly assess all applications received, based on a set of principles to support the achievement of a high standard of probity, it says.

If anyone requires recovery support they are encouraged to contact the bushfire customer care line on 13 77 88, or visit the Service NSW website at

For more information on bushfire funding measures to date, visit

Great effort by local business in flood clean up

Great effort by local business in flood clean up

Port News reported that they would like to make you aware of Ben and his team at Oxley Landscapes and their tireless work they have been doing helping the flood stricken residents of Dunbogan.

Ben, on his own bat, has supplied men and trucks and escalators to remove the flood damaged waste that residents have placed on the road side with the help of SES, RFS, Army and Fire Brigades along with other volunteers.

Although it has been heart breaking for residents to watch cars, home furniture, memories etc. be taken away they are so great full for the help and support from all the volunteers and in particular Ben at Oxley Landscapes for helping us to get back to some kind of normalcy, particularly along the Boulevard, Bell Street and the Dunbogan Caravan and Residential Park that was hardest hit.

We thank them from the bottom of our hearts for his kindness.

Howes Valley Rural Fire Service (RFS) is cooking up a storm in their newly upgraded kitchen thanks to a $3,600 donation from Yanccoal’s MTW Operations

Upgrades kitchen at the Howes Valley RFS. Photo supplied.
 Upgrades kitchen at the Howes Valley RFS. Photo supplied

The Singleton Argus reported that the Howes Valley Rural Fire Service (RFS) is cooking up a storm in their newly upgraded kitchen thanks to a $3,600 donation from Yancoal Australia’s Mount Thorley Warkworth (MTW) operation.

The freshly renovated kitchen includes a new oven and cooktop, microwave, and large fridge/freezer. It will cater for over forty volunteer firefighters at the Howes Valley RFS.

Mark Halton Captain of the Howes Valley Rural Fire Service was thrilled with the renovation.

“We hope to never see an event like the 2019/20 bushfires again, however it was during this disaster that the need was recognised to upgrade our kitchen facilities,” Mark said.

“The shed becomes ground zero for us, providing a base for the crew to take a break, get hydrated and eat a meal to help keep their energy levels up.

“We are delighted the kitchen facilities have been updated and are more functional for our dedicated fire crews, who respond to fire activity across the Singleton region.”

Mount Thorley Warkworth General Manager David Bennett welcomed the opportunity to update the facility for the local firefighters.

“The Howes Valley fire crews battled a number of blazes across the Singleton region in the ferocious 2019/20 bushfires. During that time, the crews were exhausted but they showed true bravery and strength pushing on to help save our community. We are proud we could fund this upgrade and make a positive impact on the people in our community who are there when we need them most,” said David.

The donation was part of the Yancoal Mount Thorley Warkworth (MTW) Community Support Program, which aims to make a positive difference in the local community and to the lives of the people who work and live in the areas it operates.

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