Million-dollar recovery grant for bushfire-hit communities in Hawkesbury

Bushfire-hit communities in the Hawkesbury will receive an immediate $1 million grant from the Federal Government.

As the NSW Rural Fire Service announced what had been the largest forest fire in the world from a single ignition point - the Gospers Mountain fire - had been contained, Liberal Senator for Western Sydney, Marise Payne, said Hawkesbury City Council would be able to choose the best way to use the $1 million in funding to help the community recover.

Briefing: Susan Templeman, David Littleproud, Marise Payne, Robyn Preston, Barry Calvert (not pictured) and head of recovery Andrew Colvin are briefed on the current bushfire situation at Hawkesbury Fire Control Centre. Picture: Supplied.

Briefing: Susan Templeman, David Littleproud, Marise Payne, Robyn Preston, Barry Calvert (not pictured) and head of recovery Andrew Colvin are briefed on the current bushfire situation at Hawkesbury Fire Control Centre. Picture: Supplied.

"As we have seen in the township of Bilpin, for example, council has already been on the ground hosting recovery meetings, and this initial grant will help council to build on these efforts by prioritising and delivering local recovery projects," Senator Payne said in a statement.

"While the operational response to the bushfire threat is ongoing, particularly as regards the Grose Valley fire, the feedback I have received from locals highlights the acute need for funding to flow immediately."

Ms Payne visited Hawkesbury Fire Control Centre for a briefing on Monday with Natural Disaster Minister David Littleproud, Macquarie MP Susan Templeman, Hawkesbury MP Robyn Preston, and Hawkesbury Mayor Barry Calvert.

The group then visited fire-affected businesses in Bilpin.

Hawkesbury Mayor Barry Calvert said council was grateful for the funding.

"We're acutely aware that there are a range of issues that need to be considered including fire affected property owners and business owners, fire trails, animals, roads, community assets, and the local economy," Cr Calvert said.

"We have been working with adjoining councils, including the Blue Mountains, and the newly created Regional Bushfire Recovery Committee, and we have also been holding community meetings to hear directly from our community members about what they need.

"Council also has created a bushfire recovery guide and a contact form for bushfire affected residents so that they can let us know how they have been specifically impacted by the bushfires, to enable us to help in the best way possible. The guide and contact form has been made available to residents at community meetings and it is also available on Council's homepage.

"I will be working very closely with our Councillors and our community members to determine the most strategic ways to use this funding wisely and effectively for our community.

"While it will be a long road to recovery, this $1 million funding will make a positive difference and I thank the Federal Government on behalf of the Hawkesbury community. I also thank the State Government for their funding assistance. Our recovery will continue to require an unprecedented joint effort with the NSW Government, adjoining councils, charities and community members.

"Our bushfire season is not over yet. I would like to thank our firefighters and all emergency services and volunteers for their continued efforts in protecting our community. We would be lost without you.

Macquarie MP Susan Templeman also welcomed the funding, and said it would take "many years" to recover from the fires.

"There's no doubt we will need more funding, and it's important the government sits down and listens to local councils to make sure they get the resources they need to rebuild our communities physically and mentally," she said.

"We will also need assistance to overcome the dreadful impact these fires have had on the local economy, and we'll need swift action to help with that business recovery.

"I look forward to working over the days, weeks, months and years ahead in a bipartisan way to help our community recover."

Funds will be drawn from the $2 billion allocated to the National Bushfire Recovery Agency and are in addition to funding that is automatically available to councils through other disaster recovery arrangements.

The only condition placed on councils is that they develop a program of works within three months and report back to the Commonwealth in 12 months' time.