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Hills parish receives bushfire relief funds

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Adelaide Hills parish is one of 15 organisations to to be allocated funding from Catholic Emergency Relief Australia to support communities recovering from bushfires that devastated large parts of the country last summer.

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Catholic Emergency Relief Australia (CERA) was officially launched in February and brings together a number of key national organisations.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Catholic Religious Australia, Catholic Social Services Australia and the National Catholic Education Commission were founding members. The St Vincent de Paul Society has also joined the collaboration.

Last month the first grant application round – for at least $100,000 – was opened.

The Adelaide Hills funding will go towards a program to encourage parishioners in fire-affected areas to come together with volunteers from the parish youth group, Awaken Youth, and the St Catherine’s School community to “share a laugh and a meal to show them the parish team cares and is behind them”.

A total of 24 organisations, seeking a total of approximately $400,000, lodged applications for funding. Of these, 15 organisations will receive a total of $110,000.

CERA chair Susan Pascoe, who was one of the commissioners for the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, said a focus on projects and programs that will support people’s mental health and trauma management was carefully considered.

“We are aware that much – but by no means all – of people’s immediate needs were addressed through major government and non-government organisations in the days and weeks after fires ravaged many parts of our nation,” Ms Pascoe said.

“What will take much longer, though, is the spiritual, emotional and psychological recovery. The funding we have awarded will focus especially on those aspects of people’s journey back to some sense of normalcy.”

Ms Pascoe said it was also important to see the grants support both a geographical and chronological spread.

“Two of the unique characteristics of last summer’s bushfires were both the early start to the fire season and the fact that so many states and territories suffered – some at the same time,” she said.

“The applications we received unsurprisingly drew from those regions and from across that timeframe, and the grant recipients also reflect that reality.

“We once again thank those who have supported Catholic Emergency Relief Australia by donating to this long-term recovery plan and we are confident that the funding we provide will make a difference in the lives of people affected by the bushfires.”

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