Incredible tribute to fallen firefighters
A memorial playground in honour of two firefighters who died during the Black Summer bushfires and a massive art project on Kangaroo Island are just two of the local projects set to go ahead thanks to new donations from the News Corp Bushfire Fund.
Twenty new grants totalling $410,159 have been awarded to local not-for-profit organisations in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and SA, to help communities recover from the devastation of the Black Summer.
A first round of grants awarded in June saw more than $360,000 go to recovery efforts and projects, with the total amount of money donated from the News Corp Bushfire Fund now in excess of $770,000.
A $16,600 grant will help fund a playground in memory of Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O'Dwyer, Horsley Park Brigade firefighters who died on December 19 in Buxton when their vehicle overturned as they were fighting the Green Wattle Creek Fire.
Krystal Foster, a member of the Buxton community, suggested giving the park a fire truck theme - an idea that quickly won favour as an appropriate tribute to the two men.
Works begin on September 21 and are expected to be complete by November.
Mr O'Dwyer's widow Melissa told News Corp the playground would be a "special place" for kids such as her daughter Charlotte, and Mr Keaton's son Harvey (who were born within days of each other) to play and make happy memories.
"It makes me happy to know that there will be a place to honour Andrew and Geoff and a place where our children can play and remember their fathers," Ms O'Dwyer said.
"I know that Andrew would have loved this, he loved children and so many of our family and friends have so many fond memories with him as he was the ultimate 'big kid'."
Horsley Park Rural Fire Service brigade captain Darren Nation said "the boys would have loved the park".
"It is a great initiative that will see them remembered forever. They were both about kids and the community so it is a fitting way to honour their memory," he said.
Mr Keaton's fiancee Jess Hayes said the tragedy of the Buxton fire would never be forgotten.
"It means a lot to me that the community Geoff and Andrew lost their lives protecting want to honour them in this way," she said. IIt will always be an emotional location for us but as young father's it will now also be a space were we can bring Harvey and Charlotte to make some nice memories. I look forward to seeing all kids play and enjoy the playground for many years to come."
Another grant of $25,000 will help fund the painting of a massive mural on the side of a disused silo on Kangaroo Island.
Graeme Connell from the Advance Kingscote Progress Association said silos had been transformed in other country towns across Australia, and it would help lift business around Kangaroo Island's largest town.
A lifelong Kangaroo Islander himself, Mr Connell said the 34-metre high silo was erected in the late 1970s but it had been little used since it was decommissioned 15 years ago.
Cam Smart, who created a massive colourful mural for a run of silos in Kimba on SA's Eyre Peninsula in 2017, has been chosen to paint the Kingscote silo.
Mr Connell said it would feature a large kangaroo, together with some glossy black cockatoos, a species whick was almost wiped out on the island during the devastating fires.
Funding for the $120,000 project has so far come from a range of sources, including a surprise $11,000 donated by the people of Wongan Hills, WA (population 898), who had been moved by the Kangaroo Island fires.
Mr Connell said the effects of the fires were still felt keenly on the island.
"There are a few issues with mental health," he said. "It affected farmers, and a lot of them were older men. To lose everything they've worked for ... it's very hard to pick up," he said.
News Corp Australia has also announced a $500,000 top-up of its Bushfire Fund, taking its total budget to $1.5 million.
The Fund was established in March 2020 in partnership with the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal.
That organisation's CEO Natalie Egleton said many applications for inspiring projects had been received, showing the vitality of regional areas.
"Recovery happens at different rates and there are different needs in each impacted community," Ms Egleton said.
"For some places, recovery means building community resilience with projects that will strengthen local identity and create tourist attractions for economic recovery. While another local collaboration will activate an environmental sustainability project and bring many people together, with a particular focus on supporting vulnerable members of the community, by offering support from mental health professionals."
News Corp Australia's Community Ambassador Penny Fowler said the projects that had received funding showed "how diverse the needs of each community are in the recovery effort".
"Continuing to support the road to recovery at a community level is vital to our mission to improve the lives and livelihoods of those most affected by the devastating bushfires.
"We are also delighted to announce an additional $500,000 donation to the News Corp Bushfire Fund, taking the total budget to $1.5 million and ensuring we can continue to work with the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal to make a difference to communities across the nation," Ms Fowler said.
OTHER PROJECTS TO RECEIVE FUNDING
Merrimans Local Aboriginal Land Council, Bega Valley NSW
A grant of $25,000 will fund a series of projects and events including a weekly intergenerational GrubClub Garden Program at Bermagui Preschool's 'Moodji Farm', a day of cultural celebration at Umbarra and sustainability workshops in Cobargo.
Biggara Recreational Reserve Committee of Management, Towong VIC
A $24,240 grant will help upgrade Biggara Hall with a deck.
Royal South Australian Deaf Society Inc, South Australia
A $25,000 grant will fund an online training project for 13,500 Country Fire Service volunteers across SA to communicate effectively with the SA deaf community in emergency situations.
The Little Pocket Association, Scenic Rim QLD
A $25,000 grant will fund the Community Mural and Memorial project, in which a team of professional and emerging local artists will be invited to design murals across Beechmont and fire impacted communities in the Scenic Rim.
Bega Aboriginal Land Council, Bega Valley NSW
A $20,683 grant will purchase 12 complete flame-resistant outfits as PPE for the team as well other items of hardware.
Gippsland Disability Advocacy Inc, East Gippsland VIC
A $22,000 grant will support Gippsland Disability Advocacy to adequately support people with disabilities in East Gippsland, facilitating access to Occupational Therapists, Counsellors, allied health experts, General Practitioners, Specialists, dentists and more.
SAVEM Inc, Onkaparinga, SA
A $21,050 grant will help equip a mobile inflatable Field Hospital with veterinary equipment essential to provide best-practice veterinary emergency management and treatment for animals.
Four Wheel Drive NSW & Act Incorporated, Batemans Bay, NSW
A $25,000 grant for a fully equipped trailer to provide on-site support and facilities for volunteer workers in affected post-disaster recovery projects.
Corryong Historic Machinery Club, Towong, VIC
A $25,000 grant to enable the club to complete its fire damaged shed, with a view to expansion so that it can become a local museum and tourist attraction,
Glenreagh HeartStart Inc, Clarence Valley, NSW
Funding of $3390 will set up a training room to conduct courses for community members to provide resilience and support for the local community.
Tomerong School of Arts, Shoalhaven, NSW
A $25,000 grant will fund an accessible toilet for users of the Tomerong School of Arts.
Albury Wodonga Regional Foodshare, Towong, VIC
Funding of $17,148 will purchase a warehouse freezer for installation in newly acquired additional warehouse space.
Pardana Agricultural Horticultural and Floricultural Society Inc, Kangaroo Island, SA
Parndana Show 2020
Funding of $15,000 will help host a free Parndana Show on November 14.
Spring Head Trinity Lutheran Church Inc
Funding of $10,219 will purchase fencing material and the removal of a large dangerous dead Gum Tree to improve the site's preparedness for any fire emergency.
Gipsy Point Cemetery Trust, East Gippsland, VIC
Funding of $22,004 will help replace burnt and damaged boundary fences and update entrance points at the cemetery.
Country Women's Association of NSW, Mid-Western Regional NSW
A grant of $14,145 will helpbuy a mobile big screen theatre for community, cultural and educational events.
Disaster Relief Australia, Adelaide Hills, SA
A grant of $25,000 will go towards the purchase of two trailers which will enable the newly created South Australian Disaster Relief Team under DRA to deploy in greater capacity in more locations than simply using vehicles.
Bega Valley Bushfire Recovery Program, Bega, NSW
Funding of $23,680 will help restore the walkway from Wonboyn township to the nearest beach, and help with the staging of a community event.
Originally published as Incredible tribute to fallen firefighters