Volunteers in Victoria’s hardest hit drought-affected regions will be given a helping hand, thanks to a $1.6 million Brumby government initiative announced this week.
The member for Western Victoria, Gayle Tierney said volunteers and emergency relief organisations were the backbone of rural and farming communities.
“We’re leading up to a particularly demanding time of year for emergency relief volunteers, and the length and severity of the big dry means that more help is needed to keep up with the growing needs of drought-affected communities,” Ms Tierney said.
“Volunteers are working with hundreds of organisations across Victoria – such as VicRelief and the Foodbank – to provide food, funds and material to people in immediate need.
“Emergency Volunteer Support Grants of up to $20,000 are now available to not-for-profit community organisations to help ease the burden on existing volunteers and recruit 400 extra volunteers in the state’s North and North West, where the help is needed most.”
Ms Tierney said the Emergency Volunteer Support Grants are part of the Victorian Government’s $100 million Drought Relief Package, announced by the Premier last month.
Some of the activities eligible for funding through the grants program include:
– covering out-of-pocket expenses of volunteers working over extended periods, including travel, food, accommodation and telephone expenses;
– increased personal and counselling support for volunteers; and
– development of a recruitment and promotion plan to attract new volunteers.
The Minister for Community Development, Peter Batchelor, said applications for the grants would initially be taken in two rounds, with one round being awarded very early in 2008, with another being assessed in February 2008.
“We’ll be moving very swiftly to assess the grant applications and award the funding to make sure we’re giving the best possible support to volunteers and community groups,” he said.
Mr Batchelor thanked volunteers across Victoria for their contribution, saying International Volunteer Day offered a fantastic opportunity to recognise the volunteer effort in Victoria and encourage more people to get involved in volunteering.
“Volunteers in Victoria have a long and proud tradition of supporting the community in times of need. The work of emergency relief volunteers is a powerful reminder of this,” he said.
Emergency Volunteer Support Grants are available to all not-for-profit community organisations in areas which have been declared as having Exceptional Circumstances.
To apply for an Emergency Volunteer Support Grant or for more information, please visit www.grants.dpcd.vic.gov.au or call the Grants Information Line on 1300 366 356.