Army personnel help to mend fences in the Orara Valley for BlazeAid after the November bushfires.
Army personnel help to mend fences in the Orara Valley for BlazeAid after the November bushfires.

What $1-million in fire relief will fund in the Orara Valley

INITIAL discussions with Orara Valley residents and businesses affected by bushfires in November have led to a preliminary list of recovery-related initiatives to be funded by the Australian Government's $1-million grant to all bushfire-hit communities.

A public meeting in Nana Glen of residents, government agencies, businesses and representatives from Council and the Red Cross on January 28 identified a number of short and longer-term measures to help the Orara Valley community in its recovery.

An Interim Program of Works worth $416,784 was agreed.

These were:

  • Nana Glen Community Hall - installation of solar panels and air-conditioning, $70,000.
     
  • Community Led Recovery Event - a single whole-of-community event with activities and entertainment to bring everyone together, $50,000.
     
  • Business and Tourism Support - Strategies to attract visitors, $68,000.
     
  • Appointment of a 12-month Community Recovery Officer with experience and skills in disaster recovery, $150,000.
     
  • Lower Bucca Community Preschool for the refurbishment of existing amenities and undercover outdoor area, $78,784.

Among the more long-term projects suggested were ideas such as improvements to existing infrastructure, a community hub safe place and an emergency equipment storage facility. Some other suggestions were able to be considered as part of ongoing Council and State Government services.

In addition, investigations are to be undertaken into the upgrading of roads and environmental restoration in the Orara Valley.

A dedicated 'Bushfire Recovery Program' online resource with links to available assistance for affected residents and businesses has also been developed following the meeting in Nana Glen.

It includes a survey asking for more recovery ideas to encourage continued engagement with the Orara Valley and wider community to work through the best use of the remaining $583,216 of the $1-million funds.

In total, the Rural Fire Service Building Impact Assessment listed 17 homes as destroyed by the bushfires with seven damaged.

Two facilities and 27 outbuildings were also destroyed and seven outbuildings were damaged, with 41 rural landholders impacted.

To help with the rebuilding or repair of properties - when the focus starts to turn towards reconstruction - Council will also waive a number of fees and charges relating to construction for people whose property is included in the RFS Building Impact Assessment.