ANECDOTALY, donations by Australians to support fellow citizens affected by natural disasters are spontaneous and prolific.
With deep pockets and full hearts, people want to help their mates, even if they don’t know them.
Foundation for Rural Regional Renewal’s CEO Natalie Egleton said in March, in the face of successive disasters, the last year has shone a light on the generosity of Australians.
“Australians want to lend a hand, even though it’s been tougher than usual for many,” Ms Egleton said.
“We hope that this same desire to give will continue in the face of the latest [flooding] disaster as these communities will need support long after the waters have receded.”
The Foundation, commonly referred to as FRRR, has backed remote, rural and regional communities across the continent to prepare for and recover from natural disasters since 2006.
Ms Egleton said she found it hard to fathom how rural communities could face any more challenges than they have in the past year.
“Many places devasted by the recent floods have also been dealing with the impacts of drought, the bushfires, and COVID-19 restrictions,” she said.
FRRR’s approach provides support to local community groups and non-profits where there are gaps or rapid responses required immediately after the disaster.
However, Ms Egleton said FRRR focuses the majority of funds on the medium-to-long term recovery and future preparedness efforts of rural communities.
“Funding medium to long-term recovery ensures that resources are available to help communities beyond the immediate needs that arise during the emergency,” she said.
“From our experience, we know disasters have a long-lasting impact – it could take a decade or longer.
“As recovery gets underway, communities will have different concerns and needs, meaning that recovery will happen at different rates, depending on the community and local priorities.”
William M Paton, author of Philanthropic Grant Making for Disasters, wrote that over a third of private giving is done in less than the first four weeks of a sudden disaster.
Two-thirds are donated within two months, while this giving stops almost entirely after five or six months.
Ms Egleton notes that America’s Centre for Disaster Philanthropy reports only seven per cent of philanthropic support to disasters globally in 2018 was directed to preparedness, and only one per cent to resilience, risk reduction and mitigation.
FRRR has an outreach and engagement framework, employing staff in New South Wales, Victoria, and soon to be in Western Australia.
One on one visits and spending a lot of time on the phone enables the group to foster and nurture long term relationships with rural and regional residents.
Ms Egleton said the staff aim to get on the road to different regions to sit down with the townsfolk and hear about what is happening in their area.
FRRR views disasters as environmental shocks that remote, rural, regional communities regularly experience.
They are inevitable, but what makes them complex is not knowing when, where, or with what severity they will affect the people and the area.
The organisation bestows grants to local not-for-profits and community groups for community-led recovery and resilience initiatives because local context matters.
It has seen how investing in the recovery and resilience of affected communities produces the best localised and sustainable outcomes.
FRRR connects goodwill with a good purpose promoting long term vitality in remote, rural and regional populations.