The NSW Nationals have launched the $8.5 million Operation Outreach program, aimed at ensuring anyone who was affected by last summer's devastating bushfires gets the support they need.
Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead, said the program came in addition to the numerous measures the Nationals had already rolled out.
"Operation Outreach is a dedicated program made up of the NSW Government, local councils, charities and locally embedded recovery services which will proactively seek out bushfire-impacted families and individuals to ensure they are utilising the raft of support available," Mr Bromhead said.
"This is above and beyond the ongoing engagement already underway.
"The NSW and Federal governments, in partnership with Laing O'Rourke, have so far cleared around 1300 properties free of charge to property owners and we are well on track to meet the ambitious target of majority properties cleared by June 30."
You may also like: Dispelling the myth about the naming of Black Head
Deputy premier and minister responsible for disaster recovery, John Barilaro, believed the program would help prevent people from falling through the cracks.
"Operation Outreach will be undertaken in two stages - the first step will see dedicated support officers ensure contact has been made with every single person who has been impacted by bushfires and actively seek out anyone who has not made contact," Mr Barilaro said.
"The second step is to refer those in need to the dedicated, local recovery support service."
The program employs a localised support model that draws on key learnings from previous disasters, such as the 2013 Blue Mountains bushfires, 2017 Sir Ivan Fire and 2018 Tathra fire.
"Since November, the NSW Nationals in Government has provided over 8000 people with emergency accommodation and we are rolling out temporary accommodation pods in partnership with the Minderoo Foundation," Mr Bromhead said.
"We know that people who have experienced trauma seek help according to their own timeline and this program ensures nobody misses out."
You may also like: Lack of lawn bowls leaves a lonely void for clubs and players
Funding for the project has been provided through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangement (DFRA), which is jointly funded by the Federal Government.
The NSW Nationals have already provided the following services to bushfire-affected communities:
- more than 1300 properties have been cleared by Laing O'Rourke;
- 99 per cent of the clean-up contracts are going to local and regional contractors;
- more than $160 million paid out in $10,000 small business grants;
- more than $76 million has been paid out in $75,000 primary industry grants;
- more than $15 million has been spent on providing health and well-being support;
- almost $4 million in disaster welfare grants have been paid out;
- the $140 million Bushfire Industry Recovery Package;
- more than 8000 people have been placed in emergency accommodation since November;
- more than 100 pods through a partnership with Minderoo Foundation and NSW Government are being rolled out to communities who need to stay on their land;
- $1 billion commitment to rebuild public infrastructure; and
- $10 million marketing campaign to promote tourism.
Stay ahead with local news by signing up for the Great Lakes Advocate newsletter here.