With the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie, our first thoughts are...how can we help? In the furniture industry, we could easily donate furniture from our fabulous Members and networks. However, after further investigation, we have discovered that sadly this is not really feasible. The uncomfortable truth is that accepting, sorting, listing, locating, packing, dispatching and delivering furniture is a business in itself. It takes time and people and money. All resources that are absolutely precious during an emergency. So what’s the short-term solution?

The Australian Furniture Association is encouraging you to support the Foundation for Regional and Rural Renewal. The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) has established a Repair-Restore-Renew Fund to support the medium to long-term recovery of rural and regional areas affected by Cyclone Debbie and the resultant flooding.

Working through a collaborative model, the Foundation raises funds at the time of disasters, which are then distributed through community grants beginning 12-18 months after the event ensuring that resources are available to support communities when the needs have become more apparent.

So why support a community? Emergency services, governments and relief agencies do an amazing job during and immediately after a disaster, bringing people to safety and ensuring their immediate needs are met. But disasters have a long-lasting impact and communities need support long after the focus has moved on to the next event: organisations still need rebuilding; people need support and community spirit needs restoring.

The collaborative aspect of FRRR’s program is also important and the kinds of things that can be funded are diverse and reflect the needs the community identifies, but it could include minor infrastructure, arts programs, mental health, volunteer fatigue, training, leadership, resilience, communication and disaster prevention and mitigation. Some specific projects funded after previous disasters include:

  • rebuilding key community assets, such as local halls and meeting places, playgrounds and gardens, so there are physical places to meet and connect;
  • activities that encourage people to connect – e.g. woodworking; singing; art; craft
  • training for volunteers in disaster recovery skills - e.g. using chainsaws;
  • engagement programs (e.g. mental health, workshops; community gardens, health and fitness) that support people through practical activities;
  • environmental rehabilitation; and
  • economic recovery activities for the community or for an industry sector

These are often projects that cannot be funded anywhere else – yet they are in high demand from communities in recovery.

Funds can be directed to community groups that often aren’t eligible for philanthropic funding. In small communities, many of the local community groups don’t have DGR status, so they don’t receive funding from other sources. So, contributing to FRRR’s programs ensures that the funds really get to the groups that need support.

Click here or contacting FRRR on 03 5430 2399.