Disaster Affected Clarence Valley Communities Share Over a Million Dollars in Funding for Community-Led Projects

NRCF AdminNews

Northern Rivers Community Foundation’s latest release of participatory grant funding has provided over a million dollars to support community-led projects in fire-affected communities across the Clarence Valley.  

This initiative is part of the Fire to Flourish program, an innovative community-led disaster recovery and resilience effort led by the Monash Sustainable Development Institute and its philanthropic partners, active in the Clarence Valley and Tenterfield since 2023. 

Empowering Communities Through Participatory Granting 

Participatory grant-making is at the heart of the Fire to Flourish program. This approach ensures that the communities affected by disasters have the power and agency to determine their recovery and resilience strategies. Research has shown that participatory approaches can lead to more effective and sustainable outcomes in disaster recovery and resilience building (Emerald Insight). By involving local stakeholders in decision-making, we ensure that the solutions are tailored to the specific needs and values of each community. 

Co-Designing Thriving Communities in the Lower Clarence 

In the Lower Clarence, $300,000 of the grant funding is supporting seven diverse and impactful projects. The process begins with the formation of “Co-Design Groups” of community leaders who collaboratively create a vision for their community. These groups work with NRCF and Fire to Flourish community teams to design and implement projects that align with their shared goals. 

Participatory granting not only meets the immediate needs of disaster recovery but also fosters long-term resilience by building stronger community connections and enhancing local knowledge and skills. As we face an increasing number of climate-related natural disasters, empowering local communities to take charge of their recovery is crucial. 

Place-Making: Reimagining Local Spaces 

Another significant component of the funding is the Place-Making Grant Round, which allocated $800,000 to support 17 projects aimed at improving local community spaces. These projects range from environmental restoration for fire hazard reduction to the creation of community spaces and improving safety at evacuation hubs. 

In collaboration with urban planning and architecture students from Monash University, communities across the greater Clarence Valley (including Blicks, Orara Valley, Woombah, and Nymboida) have worked to reimagine and redesign their public areas. These collaborative efforts ensure that the community’s needs and desires are at the forefront of any development, promoting a sense of ownership and pride in the projects. 

Impact and Testimonials 

The impact of these grants is already visible. Shakti Lade from Blicks Community Incorporated shared, “Grant funding so far has made a very positive change to our community on many levels, including building skills, knowledge, and confidence in locals. The Fire to Flourish grant is very important to continue the bushfire recovery work.” 

These sentiments are echoed across various projects, where community members are not just passive recipients of aid but active participants in rebuilding and enhancing their environments. The participatory grant-making process has brought about much-needed projects and resources, simultaneously rebuilding community connection and confidence. 

The Future of Participatory Granting 

While many of these grants might seem small, their impact is mighty. Each project is community-conceived, developed, and voted on, ensuring alignment with local priorities. This level of participation brings assurance that the community is supported in its endeavours, generating engagement and a sense of ownership as the place-making unfolds. 

The work that Monash Sustainable Development Institute with its philanthropic partners are undertaking is helping develop knowledge and evidence about the power of supporting disaster-affected communities through participatory granting. NRCF are proud contributors to ensuring our local voice is part of this growing trend. 

By placing decision-making power in the hands of local communities, we are fostering resilience and ensuring that recovery efforts are both effective and sustainable. This approach not only addresses immediate needs but also builds a stronger, more connected, and resilient community for the future. 

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