Grants for Mitchell volunteers

Ilona, Koko, Nichole, Christina, Kyla Joy and Sonia from Children First Foundation’s The Retreat faciliity in Kilmore East.

By Jackson Russell

Sixteen community groups across the McEwen electorate will receive grants to support volunteers.

Children First Foundation will receive $4650, Mitchell Suicide Prevention Network $3680, Love in Action $3500 and Kilmore Toy Library $2410 were among the groups to receive grants of between $1000 and $5000.

The grants can be used to buy small equipment, such as defibrillators and pay for fuel, transport and training costs to make their volunteers’ jobs easier.

Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell said it was fantastic to see a range of organisations receive the grants.

“The funding provides some relief for these organisations and their volunteers in what has been a really difficult year,” he said.

“The bushfires and coronavirus pandemic have reminded us of the enormous importance of volunteers and their contribution to our communities.”

However, Mr Mitchell said he was disappointed at the amount of groups to miss out on crucial funds.

“The groups receiving these much needed grants really deserve a boost through these volunteer grants, but we are very concerned many will miss out,” he said.

“Many local emergency relief organisations have seen a surge in demand for their services due to recent events, and some have been forced to close their doors because they can’t get the goods, funding and support they need.”

Mr Mitchell said the Liberal-National Government limited grants to $66,000 per electorate, despite 70 per cent of organisations with worthy applications missing out in previous rounds.

“In the latest round, 32 groups that applied for assistance missed out despite the hard work of volunteers and clear community need,” he said.

“Those who missed out included CFA brigades, sports clubs, homeless shelters and SES units.”

Mr Mitchell said Labor wrote to the Federal Government requesting a review of funding levels and expressed concerns about the application process which placed pressure on small community organisations to meet tight application deadlines.

Children First Foundation development manager Treaisa Rowe said the foundation would use the grant to reimburse and upskill volunteers.

The majority of the grant will go towards reimbursing volunteers for police checks and enabling volunteers to undertake food handling training.

“We’re 80 per cent volunteers and 20 per cent paid staff so the main portion of the grant will go to reimburse volunteers to have their police checks done so we’re doing the best we can for the protection of the kids,” she said.

“While we don’t count as a commercial kitchen, it’s helpful for some of our volunteers to have food handling training.

“Often if staff are taking children to hospitals, volunteers will help in the kitchen to make sure the kids get the best food possible and the kitchens are sparkling clean.”

Ms Rowe said the grant took a lot of pressure off the foundation, especially to reimburse volunteers who happily paid out of their own pocket for training and police checks.

“The way they’ve done it this year, we had to be nominated by our local member Rob Mitchell which makes this even nicer and shows we’re part of the community and valued in the community,” she said.

“We’ve had a big focus on engaging the local community and want them to be proud that we’re in the community so it’s nice to have this.

“We’re very dependent on our volunteers and we always need more. Sometimes staff have to take kids to appointments so it would be great to have more local volunteers.

“It’s great fun and you get to hang out with the kids, they’re awesome.”