Drought and Bushfire Recovery

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Kempsey Shire Council's Recovery page is here to support our community recover from drought, bushfires, floods and coronavirus. If you have been affected, there are a range of assistance measures available to support you.

Kempsey Shire Council is here to support our community in ongoing recovery from the 2019 drought and bushfires.

Stay informed, check the latest alerts and information on the Kempsey Shire Council homepage

Our dedicated Recovery Team is working in partnership with the emergency services, State and Federal government agencies, charities and others to deliver this assistance.

To contact Council's Recovery Team call 6566 3200 during office hours.

NSW Bushfire Customer Care Service

For people impacted by bushfire, the NSW Bushfire Customer Care Service will help you navigate the support and financial assistance that's available across all levels of government. Call 13 77 88 or visit www.service.nsw.gov.au to access bushfire recovery information and locations of Service NSW, and Mobile Service Centres.


Kempsey Shire Council is here to support our community in ongoing recovery from the 2019 drought and bushfires.

Stay informed, check the latest alerts and information on the Kempsey Shire Council homepage

Our dedicated Recovery Team is working in partnership with the emergency services, State and Federal government agencies, charities and others to deliver this assistance.

To contact Council's Recovery Team call 6566 3200 during office hours.

NSW Bushfire Customer Care Service

For people impacted by bushfire, the NSW Bushfire Customer Care Service will help you navigate the support and financial assistance that's available across all levels of government. Call 13 77 88 or visit www.service.nsw.gov.au to access bushfire recovery information and locations of Service NSW, and Mobile Service Centres.


  • Kempsey Flood declared a national disaster

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    The Federal and NSW governments have declared the Kempsey floods a National Disaster which means recovery assistance is available for Kempsey.

    Disaster recovery assistance is now available in Armidale, Bellingen, the Central Coast, Cessnock City, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour City, Dungog, Kempsey, Lake Macquarie, Maitland City, Mid-Coast, Nambucca Valley, Newcastle City, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Port Stephens, and Tenterfield local government areas following severe storms and floods from 10 March 2021 onwards.

    Assistance is being provided through the jointly-funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).

    Assistance available under the DRFA may include:

    • Help for eligible people whose homes or belongings have been damaged
    • Support for affected local councils to help with the costs of cleaning up and restoring damaged essential public assets
    • Concessional interest rate loans for small businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations
    • Freight subsidies for primary producers, and
    • Grants to eligible non-profit organisations

    For more information on personal hardship and distress assistance, contact Service NSW on 13 77 88. To apply for a concessional loan or grant, contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or visit www.raa.nsw.gov.au

    Further information on disaster assistance is available on the Australian Government's Disaster Assist website at www.disasterassist.gov.au and Service NSW at https://disasterassistance.service.nsw.gov.au/

  • Rural Property Numbering Program

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    Could the police, ambulance or fire brigade find your house in the event of an emergency?

    As part of their ongoing Recovery efforts, Kempsey Shire Council is issuing and installing free property numbers to owners of eligible properties located outside the shire’s towns and villages who apply through Council’s Rural Property Numbering Program.

    Residents should go to Council’s website to check if their property is eligible via an interactive map and then submit an application.

    Council’s Recovery Coordinator, Jo McGoldrick, said the simple addition of property numbers which are easily visible from the road could make a difference between saving and losing lives and homes.

    “During the Black Summer Bushfires it became apparent that emergency services, particularly the NSW RFS crews, were having trouble identifying people’s properties due to no clear numbers being displayed,” she said.

    “Currently, rural addresses are made up from all different types of identification and descriptions that assume local knowledge.

    “This causes confusion, delays and inconvenience for emergency services and the delivery of goods and services. A standardised means of locating rural properties with a system that is accurate, easy to understand, and easy to apply, can make all the difference in quickly locating your house or your neighbours’ house in an emergency.”

    Council received funding under the Federal Government’s Drought Communities Program to provide and install the numbers on a large number of properties.

    “We’re encouraging residents to check their eligibility and apply for a number. The program is free but there are a limited amount of numbers available so get in quick,” Ms McGoldrick said.

    For more information on the program and to find the interactive map and fill out an application form click here

    Alternatively, phone Council’s Customer Service Centre on 6566 3200.

  • Drought support funding for local farmers

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    If you're a farmer, farm worker, contractor or supplier, you could be entitled to a one-off $3,000 drought support government payment.

    To be eligible you need to be an Australian Citizen or permanent resident 18 years or older and living and/or working in an eligible Local Government Area impacted by drought.

    For more information go to: vinnies.org.au/droughthelp or call the Vinnies Drought Relief Team on 1300 846 643

  • Congratulations to Community Grants recipients

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    Congratulations to the 11 community projects that were successful in their applications for a Bushfire Recovery Community Grant.

    Applications closed on 17 November last year after a call out for projects that contribute to the bushfire recovery from a "whole of community" perspective.

    “We know recovery from drought and fires is a long term project, and it involves the whole community,” said Kempsey Shire Council Coordinator Recovery, Jo McGoldrick.

    “Lots of great projects are best carried out by those in the community who are already in groups doing fantastic work. It’s great that Council can give community-led projects a funding boost as it helps ensure our Shire will be on the right path to recovery, preparedness and building on our resilience into the future.”

    Applications were assessed under the criteria of community need, impact or benefit to the community, community connectedness and capacity to deliver.

    The successful applications were:

    • Macleay Valley Landcare - Awarded $30,000 to develop and deliver community education workshops and seedling dispersal
    • Macleay Valley Mountain Bikers - Awarded $30,000 for the development of a professionally built train in Kalateenee State Forest
    • Upper Macleay District Rodeo Association - Awarded $30,000 to implement new fencing for cattle yards
    • Upper Macleay Soccer Club - Awarded $29,975 to achieve oval upgrades
    • Wittitrin Progress Association - Awarded $29,500 to lay a slab and connect power to a new community area
    • Wittitrin Progress Association - Awarded $27,754 to erect a shed
    • Bellbrook School of Arts - Awarded $23,400 to revitalise the Bellbrook tennis courts
    • Temagog Rural Fire Service Brigade - Awarded $21,037 to install a radio repeater to enhance their communications
    • Millbank Public Hall - Awarded $20,801 to deliver much-needed upgrades to the Millbank Hall
    • Hat Head Rural Service Fire Brigade - Awarded $5,500 to purchase a generator
    • Temagog Rural Fire Service Brigade - Awarded $3,176 to purchase new IT equipment.

    We look forward to following the progress of all these projects:

    A further $50,000 of funds will be made available via a second round in the next financial year with a focus on community-led recovery, resilience and preparedness projects.

  • Black Summer Exhibition moves to Slim Dusty Centre

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    The Black Summer and Beyond travelling exhibition has been relocated to the Slim Dusty Centre with residents and visitors able to view it from Australia Day, 26 January.

    The exhibition features a number of high-quality images of the 2019 bushfires and subsequent recovery as submitted by our community.

    The exhibition is free and is open to the public during the centre’s opening hours, Tuesday to Sunday between 10am-4pm.

  • Kempsey Regional Saleyards receive much-needed upgrades

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    Kempsey Shire Council is continuing to take steps to provide users of the Kempsey Regional Saleyards with a first-class facility following a series of capital improvements.

    Council received funding from the Federal Government's Drought Communities Program to undertake upgrades at the Saleyards. The recent upgrades include new soft flooring and a cattle crush.

    Council worked with a group of key stakeholders, who use the Saleyards on a regular basis, to identify priority projects for the yards.

    The number one priority for the group was having a high-quality manual crush installed which would allow for multiple operators to safely process and immobilise cattle.

    Some minor welding works were also completed to realign the fencing of the chute that feeds the new crush.

    Other priority projects included the installation of soft floor matting in the draft area, scales and race to ring areas.

    The rubber matting provides a softer underfoot area for cattle, is high grip to prevent slipping and will reduce fatigue in cattle where they may be standing for long periods of time.

    Realignment of access ways and gates between pens within the Saleyards was also completed.

    Internal fencing to further divide the current holding paddocks, located across the road from the Saleyards, will be completed over the next few weeks, weather permitting.

    Progress in long-term lease for Saleyards

    Council will proceed with a selective tender process to lease the Saleyards following a decision at the December 2020 council meeting.

    Councillors voted to allow three shortlisted applicants from the Expression of Interest process to tender for the lease for the ongoing operation, maintenance and management of the facility over a ten-year period.

    The tender process will occur over the following months with the successful tenderer to be decided before the 2020/21 financial year.

  • Recovery Community Grants announcement delayed to February

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    In October, Kempsey Shire Council announced the application process for $300,000 in Recovery Community Grants.

    At the time, applicants were informed that those whose applications were successful would be notified in December.

    Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, the final meeting of the community panel was postponed in December and since then due to the heavy rainfall and its impacts the panel members have been unable to attend and finalise the list of successful applicants.

    The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 19 January.

    Presuming that meeting takes place successfully, Council will be considering these recommendations in the following week and announcements are expected to be made in the first or second week of February.

    We apologise for any inconvenience.

  • Black Summer and Beyond Photo Exhibition moves to South West Rocks

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    Off the back of a hugely successful tour of the Upper Macleay, the Black Summer and Beyond travelling exhibition of bushfire and recovery images has been relocated to South West Rocks for the holidays.

    During the Black Summer fires of 2019, all of our coastal communities, including South West Rocks, showed their support by sending RFS crews, providing catering, offering emergency accommodation and making generous donations to those in need.

    To acknowledge these contributions, Kempsey Shire Council has moved the exhibition to four locations across South West Rocks to give residents and visitors the opportunity to view some of the amazing photos that were submitted by our community.

    Council’s Recovery Coordinator, Jo McGoldrick, said its been amazing to see the community’s response to the exhibition.

    “It’s an important exhibition for our community, highlighting not only what we’ve been through in the last 12 months but our recovery and resilience,” she said.

    “I’d like to thank all of the local businesses in South West Rocks who have put up their hands to participate.

    “I hope that over summer our residents and visitors will enjoy viewing these amazing photographs across the five locations.”

    Residents and visitors can view the free exhibition at the following locations:

    • Trial Bay Gaol, 73 Trial Bay Gaol Access Rd, Arakoon

    • South West Rocks Surf Life Saving Club, Livingstone Street

    • Coastline Credit Union, 2 Prince of Wales Ave

    • Sea Breeze Beach Hotel, Livingstone Street

    The exhibition will be in South West Rocks until 20 January before it gets relocated to the Slim Dusty Centre in South Kempsey from Tuesday 26 January 2021.

  • Black Summer and Beyond bushfire photo exhibition opens to amazing response

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    The Black Summer and Beyond exhibition has been declared a tremendous success and a fitting tribute by the community after its opening weekend, with the winner donating her prize to volunteers.

    Black Summer and Beyond - an exhibition of images from the Macleay was officially opened by Kempsey Shire Mayor Liz Campbell at Willawarrin Hall on Saturday, on a weekend that also marked the anniversary of some of the worst days of the Black Summer bushfires impact on the region.

    More than 400 people are estimated to have visited the exhibition over the weekend to see the travelling exhibition of photos taken by the community of the fires, their impact, the immediate response and the recovery by the community and nature over the last 12 months.

    In an emotional speech, Cr Campbell described this as a time to reflect on the past year and recalled her own memories of the days immediately after the fires swept through Willawarrin and Bellbrook.

    “The images will both break your heart and uplift your spirits,” said Cr Campbell.

    “This is a time to reflect on the devastation of what happened 12 months ago. We have so much to reflect on and give thanks for.”

    “What we went through sometimes seems like a blur, but I do remember the bravery, the courage and the kindness of our community.”

    Council received more than 300 submissions from members of the community, including many extraordinary, previously unpublished, photos of the fires, the aftermath and the 12 months of recovery since that time. A selection of these have been mounted in various formats while the remaining photos can be viewed on a slideshow at the exhibition.

    Volunteers from Disaster Relief Australia, formerly known as Team Rubicon, who worked in the area in the days and weeks after the fires, returned for the first time to attend the opening and to judge the winner of Best Photo.

    The award and prize of $500 and an Akubra hat went to Rebecca Gale for her striking black and white image Strength and Resilience. Ms Gale, who lost her home in the fires, declined the $500 prize money choosing instead to donate it to the crew presenting the awards.

    The Disaster Relief Australia team also gave an honourable mention to Adam Dederer for his stunning photo of fires coming over the hill entitled She’s Coming Right For Us.

    A People’s Choice award will also be announced on Tuesday 1 December, at the conclusion of the first three stages of the exhibition.

    The free exhibition is open to the public every day from 10am-3pm on the following dates and locations:

    • Willawarrin Hall, Saturday 7 - Sunday 15 November
    • Bellbrook Hall, Saturday 21 - Tuesday 24 November
    • Sherwood Hall, Friday 27 - Monday 30 November

    Black Summer and Beyond will tour locations in the Upper Macleay before moving to other venues across the shire and beyond in the coming months.

  • $300,000 available in grants for bushfire recovery projects

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    Local not-for-profit community groups are being invited to apply for a share of $300,000 in funding for projects that contribute to the Shire’s recovery after the devastating summer bushfires.

    Under the Bushfire Recovery Community Grants Program, Kempsey Shire Council is offering $300,000 for community-led projects, with a maximum of $30,000 available for any one project.

    Council is encouraging community groups to attend information sessions this month to find out more about the grants. Applications are now open and will close on 17 November.

    Council’s Coordinator Recovery, Jo McGoldrick, said successful projects will need to contribute to the bushfire recovery on a whole of community perspective.

    “We know recovery from drought and fires is a long term project, and it involves the whole community,” said Mrs McGoldrick.

    “Lots of great projects are best carried out by those in the community who are already in groups doing fantastic work. It’s great that Council can give community-led projects a funding boost as it helps ensure our Shire will be on the right path to recovery, preparedness and building on our resilience into the future.”

    Applications will be assessed under the criteria of community need, impact or benefit to the community, community connectedness and capacity to deliver.

    ASSESSMENT CRITERIA

    Applications will be assessed using the following criteria.

    30%

    Community need

    Projects will be assessed on the extent to which the project addresses one (or more) of the Recovery Action Plan

    30%

    Impact or benefit for community

    What will the impact be of your project on the focus category as a result of the project


    30%

    Community connectedness

    Impact of project to improve community and interpersonal connections


    10%

    Capacity to deliver

    Evidence of capacity to successfully complete the project on time, to deliver the proposed outcomes and develop a budget which is relevant and realistic.


    Grant objectives

    Community & Social
    Facilitate the establishment and or development of innovative community projects in line with Kempsey Shire Council's Community Strategic Plan and the Delivery Plan

    Built Environment

    Increase the participation, accessibility and range of quality community and sporting activities and/or programs for the residents of the Kempsey Macleay Local Government Area (LGA).


    Economic Recovery

    Create authentic and vibrant public places that are valued by their communities and admired by their visitors



    Natural Environment


    Protect the region's diverse habitats and ecosystems


    Community information sessions will be held on:

    • 6pm Thursday 22 October at Council’s Civic Centre in West Kempsey
    • 6pm Tuesday 27 October at the Willawarrin Hall

    The grants have been made available for Council to deliver to the community thanks to the Federal Government, National Bushfire Recovery Agency and the NSW State Government through Resilience NSW as part of the Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Fund.

    To submit an application, go to the Smartygrants website here

    More information can be found on Council’s Recovery website

    Alternatively, contact Council on 6566 3200 and ask for someone from Recovery for more information.

    Applications close on 17 November.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How much funding is available?
    $300,000 is available for community led projects across the Kempsey Shire. A maximum of $30,000 is available for any one project.

    Where did these funds come from?
    The Australian Federal Government, National Bushfire Recovery Agency and NSW State Government through Resilience NSW have funded the program as part of the Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Fund.

    What are the eligibility criteria?
    Groups that apply are required to be not-for-profit with an Australian ABN and Public Liability Insurance. The project must contribute to the bushfire recovery on a whole of community perspective (not individuals)

    What if our group is not a registered not-for-profit, can we still apply?
    Yes you can but you will need to auspiced (sponsored) by a group that is a registered not-for-profit.

    How does a group apply?
    Applications are made through an online website called SmartyGrants. To apply you will need a computer with internet access. The link can be found on the Macleay Valley Recovery website

    Can any group in the Shire apply?
    Yes, however for an application to be successful the project needs to align with Bushfire Recovery outcomes. A copy of the Kempsey Shire Bushfire Recovery Plan can be located at the Macleay Valley Recovery website

    What do I do if I do not have a computer?
    Council’s libraries have computers with internet access. Make sure you call beforehand. Phone Kempsey Shire Library on 6566 3200. Alternatively, make an appointment at the Recovery Hub for further assistance.

    Are there any special conditions upon receipt of the funds in terms of the expenditure?
    There is an expectation that applicants will engage local (within the Kempsey Shire) contractors and service providers to ensure the funds have wide community benefit.

    Who will assess the applications?
    An Expression of Interest process was held to identify suitable community members to work with Council as part of a Bushfire Recovery Community Grants Advisory Panel. The Panel will make recommendations as to the successful applicants to Council’s Recovery Working Party, led by the General Manager for final approval.

    What are the assessment criteria?
    The appointed Panel will assess each application on merit, including its alignment to the Recovery Action Plan focus areas. Please review full assessment criteria at the Macleay Valley Recovery website

    When do applications open?
    Applications open on 9 October and close on 17 November 2020.

    When will groups know if they have been successful in securing a grant?
    Successful groups will be contacted by Council in December 2020