Lithgow is set to benefit from more than $6.5 million in bushfire recovery grants following the Gospers Mountain bushfires of 2019/2020.
Lithgow and the surrounding region will receive $6,675,922 to fund eight different projects thanks to the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery (BLER) grant program.
Lithgow will also share in a further $1,919,206 of BLER funding with other bushfire-impacted communities across New South Wales, in projects that cross regions and local government areas.
The Federal Member for Calare and Minister for Veterans Affairs and Defence Personnel Andrew Gee MP said the Lithgow Workies Club, which served as Lithgow's evacuation centre, will receive $486,747 to purchase a fixed diesel generator to prepare the city for future emergency events.
"I was in Lithgow on that dreadful day in December when the inferno hit. I was also at the Lithgow Workies Club which served as Lithgow's evacuation centre," Mr Gee said.
"It was an oasis of calm in a chaotic day, and I can't speak highly enough of the team there who did such a wonderful job helping community members.
"As I stood outside the Club, I could see homes close by catching alight. It highlighted how hard it would be for staff and evacuees if power was cut to the Workies.
"That's why this new diesel generator is so important. It will mean that the Lithgow Workies Club and the community will be even better prepared when the next disaster strikes.
"One of the key tasks for our community is to take learnings from the Black Summer bushfires and implement changes so we are better prepared."
The Wolgan Valley Association will receive $990,000 to construct an emergency fire shelter in the centre of the Wolgan Valley, including a refilling station for fire-fighting vehicles. Two additional refilling stations will be constructed at either end of the Valley.
"The Wolgan Valley was heavily hit by the bushfires and was at one stage cut-off from the rest of the community," he said.
"The fierceness of the blaze certainly highlighted the need to be better prepared for the next fires that will be inevitable.
"The Wolgan Valley Association has done an excellent job in bringing the community together to plan the construction of a new safe place and community meeting hub, and also provide refilling facilities for the RFS.
"It's a great example of communities banding together and rising up from the ashes of disaster."
The Glow Worm Tunnel visitor precinct at Newnes will receive $2,763,500 to help deliver full-day tourist experiences in the Wolgan Valley.
"Thomas Ebersoll, owner and manager of the Newnes Hotel, has been a key advocate for an upgrade to the Glow Worm Tunnel facilities," Mr Gee said.
"The Glow Worm Tunnel is a great tourism drawcard which is accessible through the Wolgan Valley. Unfortunately, its full potential has not been reached due to a lack of parking, toilet facilities, and other amenities.
"Thomas has been a key proponent for pushing the National Parks and Wildlife Service to apply for BLER funding which will drive the recovery of the Wolgan Valley and the region."
State-wide, 195 bushfire recovery projects have been approved in this round of Bushfire Local Economic Recovery projects in NSW under the Local Economic Recovery program, which is jointly funded by the Australian and New South Wales governments.
Details of projects approved in the City of Lithgow Council area:
- $2,763,500.00 to upgrade the Glow Worm Tunnel visitor precinct.
This project will develop and deliver full-day tourist experiences in the Wolgan Valley. It will construct new visitor facilities at Newnes and upgrade existing facilities around the Glow Worm Tunnel, which will support the growth of tourism in the region.
- $990,000.00 to construct an emergency fire shelter in the centre of the Wolgan Valley, including a refilling station for fire-fighting vehicles.
Two additional refilling stations will be constructed at either end of the Valley.
- $919,206.00 for Habitat for Humanity to 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.
This project will offer support to bushfire impacted communities in the Blue Mountains, benefitting people residing in the following Local Government Areas; City of Lithgow Council, Blue Mountains City Council, Hawkesbury City Council, Wingecarribee Shire Council, and Wollondilly Shire Council.
- $720,500.00 will go to the Australian Ecosystems Foundation Inc (AEFI) to build a Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Hospital adjacent to Secret Creek Sanctuary.
It will provide a venue for the rescue, and rehabilitation and release of native species. The 1000-acre Newnes Plateau Conservation Reserve will serve as a release site.
- $615,500.00 to construct a Community/Visitor Centre in Lithgow.
The venue will serve as an Aboriginal Cultural Centre for the Indigenous group One Mob; a wildlife centre for environmental education; an events space for the local community; and a visitor centre for the Secret Creek Sanctuary.
- $503,000.00 to support the Lithgow District Chamber of Commerce's efforts to boost jobs and investment through the Lithgow business revival program.
The program will include business networking events; business promotions; business start-ups; and business awards that champion local products, technologies, entrepreneurship, and innovation.
- $486,747.00 to fund the purchase of a fixed diesel generator for Lithgow's evacuation centre.
The Lithgow Workies centre is the greater Lithgow community's designated evacuation centre in the event of natural disasters, (bushfires, snow, or extreme weather). The generator will help adequately accommodate evacuees, staff members, support personnel and enhance the resilience of the club as an evacuation centre for future disaster.
- $326,675.00 for Headspace Lithgow and Chifley/Lithgow Rural Fire Service (RFS) to establish an RFS cadetship program titled 'Youth Beyond the Flame.'
The program will address the high levels of distress and anxiety experienced by young people in the Lithgow LGA following the 2019-20 bushfires. This will allow young people to form meaningful connections, develop a sense of social responsibility and build leadership skills to support work readiness.
- $270,000.00 to construct the Capertee Recreation Reserve Bike and Walking Trail.
The trail will feature ten park benches and exercise equipment, and attractive landscaping. The recreational reserve will be available to the general public and promote tourism in the area, bringing much-needed business to the local community. The project will be undertaken with the assistance of the Capertee Recreation Reserve Managers.
Oberon Council and Lithgow City Council Areas:
$1 million will be allocated to the Great Eastern Ranges (GER) initiative to support the recovery of bushfire-impacted communities in a range of ways, including employing rangers; assessing cultural and wildlife sites; conducting surveys of local fauna populations; installing nest boxes; and conducting community engagement projects.
This project will benefit people residing in the following Local Government Areas; City of Lithgow Council, Oberon Council, Blue Mountains City Council, Eurobodalla Shire Council, Kyogle Council, Richmond Valley Council, Shoalhaven City Council, Tenterfield Shire Council, Upper Lachlan Shire Council.
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.
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