Skills, Training, Engagement & Practical Support (STEPS)

The Skills, Training, Engagement and Practical Support grant program addresses the themes of resilience, preparedness and leadership in bushfire affected communities in Victoria. It offers a flexible and independent source of funding to support not-for-profit community groups affected by the 2009 Victorian Bushfires, and is a joint initiative between FRRR and the Department of Planning and Community Development.

Community groups applying to this long-term disaster recovery program request funding for initiatives that strengthen community networks, develop skills, promote involvement and leadership roles and support local groups in a practical sense, for instance, through employing a facilitator to assist community groups and develop sustainable models of operation for the future.

Three major grant rounds and one smaller out-of-session round were held during the 2012/13 financial year. A total of $236,909.06  was split among 17 grants for projects in 11 Victorian communities.  They were split among four types of projects, as illustrated below, with most funding going toward practical support like administrative help. This is an increasing trend, as volunteers are extremely fatigued nearly five years on from the fires, and there is still plenty to be done to help their communities recover.

Another way these issues are being tackled is by increasing the skills of the local community, so they can share the load. This has been done through projects like grass-roots governance training for community groups that was conducted in and around Murrindindi.