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Response and recovery

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Monday, 1 June 2020

Monday, 1 June 2020

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As communities across Victoria began the long journey to recovery and rebuilding after the Black Summer bushfires in January, the healthcare and not-for-profit sectors also began to meet the challenges of the newly emerging COVID-19 pandemic.

Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation is providing grants to help ensure that our most vulnerable people are supported during this devastating period in Australian history.

In January, the Foundation had already provided emergency grants under our Disaster Relief Policy to The Salvation Army and Foodbank Victoria to support fire-ravaged communities in North East Victoria and East Gippsland and were considering further grants as part of the recovery phase. Two further grants to Victorian Council on Social Service (VCOSS) and Habitat for Humanity have since been approved to support the recovery phase.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic State of Emergency in March, the Disaster Relief Policy was again activated and the Foundation identified significant health, social and economic impacts that were quickly emerging.

To date, the Foundation has provided $490,600 in grants for emergency relief and recovery from the bushfires, as well as $905,102 in grants to not-for-profit and research organisations across the homelessness, health and community sectors to help combat COVID-19 and support our healthcare and community partners.

The combined enormous scale and unique nature of the bushfires and pandemic both required an extraordinary and rapid response from the Foundation. While responsive philanthropic grant rounds usually take months for processing and approval, the Foundation’s experience of proactive granting enabled the staff and Board to work collaboratively to have the disaster relief grants approved within weeks of applications being received.

The Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer Dr Catherine Brown OAM said, “The organisations we have funded in response to the bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic are inspiring. Many organisations have mobilised their networks to apply a co‑ordinated approach to tackling the challenges of both a natural disaster and then a health pandemic.

“These organisations have been able to adapt quickly to changing situations and play important roles in responding to both disasters. The uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, its timelines and impacts, has meant that the agility and resilience of health and charitable organisations is especially important.

“Our program managers worked with each organisation to ensure that these projects were fast tracked through the granting process, and that the proposed connections and collaborations would meet current community needs,” added Dr Brown.

The grants continue to provide essential food items and meals to vulnerable communities, as well as providing online self-help resources and information about homelessness, social connection and support. Two grants have specifically responded to the health impacts of COVID-19, supporting research and data sharing about the most effective treatment for vulnerable and critical health data services to people and communities affected by the bushfires and COVID-19, not just in Victoria but right across Australia.

“I would like to pay tribute to the incredible leadership and hard work of the leaders and staff teams of these health and charitable organisations. They continue to provide essential and important services to support the community and build resilience during this very challenging time,” added Dr Brown.