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Communities tackling drought share in more than $1.2 million in new grants

The Australian Government is continuing to support drought-affected communities, with 36 projects sharing in more than $1.2 million in federal funding.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the latest funding, under the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal’s Tackling Tough Times Together program, came at a critical moment in regional Australia’s economic recovery.

“For many regional communities, the challenges of COVID-19 have compounded the longstanding impact of drought, which we know is only truly broken after 18 to 24 months of sustained good rainfall – something that still seems a long way off in a lot of places,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“The Australian Government has committed $15 million for the Tackling Tough Times Together program, supporting hundreds of projects run by local groups in drought-affected regional communities.

“These projects bring the community together to strengthen social bonds, develop local capacity and leadership skills, tackle disadvantage, boost economic activity and can also improve educational participation.

“2020 has been an especially difficult year for many, many Australians, however rural and regional Australians continue to demonstrate the remarkable resilience they are rightly renowned for.

“Through drought, bushfire and a global pandemic, The Nationals are backing regional Australia every step of the way to ensure communities bounce back stronger than ever.”

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said Tackling Tough Times Together supports families and businesses in regional communities through the stress of the drought by driving economy activity and investing in local infrastructure.

“Many projects funded under this round will provide relief and assistance to volunteers, get more members of the community out and about, and upgrade community spaces and infrastructure, making life that bit easier in drought-affected regional communities,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Projects funded in this round include upgrades to the agricultural hall in Aldersyde, Western Australia; funding for the Gunning Arts Festival in NSW’s Upper Lachlan Shire; a theatre, gallery and community hub in Monto, Queensland; bee hives for Students of the Air in South Australia’s Port Augusta region; an Outback Way Outdoor Gallery in the Northern Territory and a shade structure for the Pioneer Park Playground in Murrayville, Victoria.

“These investments are crucial for backing in community organisations reliant on the generous time and effort of volunteers, but whose volunteering capacities have taken a big hit from the unprecedented impact of the pandemic.

“With money already flowing through rolling grants as part of our more than $10 billion drought support package, we are doing what it takes to help regional communities through this uniquely tough year.”

More information on the Tackling Tough Times Together program and the latest round of recipients is available on the Foundation’s website here.