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Wednesday, 1 June 2005
Page: 79

Mr BARTLETT (3:01 PM) —My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. Would the Attorney-General advise the House of the government’s policy initiatives to boost volunteer organisations and communities involved in emergency management?

Mr RUDDOCK (Attorney-General) —I thank the member for Macquarie for his question because, like many of us, he is acutely aware of the sacrifices and commitment of emergency volunteers in protecting the lives and homes of people, particularly in bushfire prone areas. The government has taken major steps in delivering on its election commitment to support volunteers and local councils involved in emergency management across Australia.

Following extensive consultation, today I have released the guidelines for two new funding programs under the government’s $49 million Working Together to Manage Emergencies initiative. The funding available in this program will include $33 million under the local grant scheme, and that assists local councils to take a strategic approach to disaster management by developing risk management and community safety strategies. There is also a $16 million national volunteer support fund to provide grants directly to volunteer organisations working at the front-line of emergency management to assist with training, equipment and recruitment.

The new funding programs will be managed by Emergency Management Australia. More information, including the guidelines, is now available from the EMA web site. Applications for the first round close on 29 July. I would simply say that this practical support from the government demonstrates the value that we place on local governments and volunteers in building capacity in our community to respond to emergencies of all types. I am sure that members will join with me in encouraging hardworking emergency volunteer organisations and councils committed to keeping our communities safe to see how these initiatives can help them in their very important work.