By Ellen Morgan
Last updated on: December 21, 2020 at 8:37 am
From firies on the Fleurieu to farmers on the Yorke Peninsula, communities across South Australia will be able to bolster their safety initiatives thanks to RAA’s Regional Safety Grants
Fourteen grassroots organisations will receive a share of $50,000 of funding to help improve safety in their communities.
The grants program, which aims to give back to regional communities and improve safety state-wide, has awarded more than $400,000 to 128 not-for-profit organisations since its inception in 2013.
This year’s successful recipients, including fire and SES services, community activation groups and farming and land care committees, will use the funds to purchase everything from defibrillator machines and fire safety equipment to thermal imaging cameras and bore pump electrics.
Weavers Ag Bureau, based in the southern Yorke Peninsula, is one of this year’s successful recipients. The agricultural bureau run by farmers, for farmers, aims to improve farmer fire safety and meets monthly to discuss farming issues in the region, notably the recent bushfires.
Their Regional Safety Grant will go towards paying for 85 sets of fire protective gear, used by farmers in the region.
According to committee member, Fire Recovery Officer and local farmer Marty Collins, the need for this gear has never been greater.
“Because we had horrific fires last year at Yorketown and Edithburgh, we realised we needed more farmer-owned protective clothing and goggles,” he says.
“On that day [the fire came through], there were so many eye injuries and burns because of the flames and the smoke.
“You need goggles and you need full protective clothing. The CFS already has this equipment, which is great, but for our farmers, it’s another cost on them.”
Marty says without the grant, they’re unlikely to be able to provide the gear to local farmers, and at $250 a set, it’s easy to see why.
“These grants are good for the community… it’s a needed initiative. For our farming community, I’m really appreciative,” he says.
For the committee members of the Lochiel Progress Association – another Regional Safety Grant recipient − the sentiment is similar. But this community group has a different kind of life-saving equipment in mind – a defibrillator.
“Lochiel as a location is bit rare – it’s right on the highway, so we thought that a heart-start machine would be a great addition to the town,” committee member John Nicholls says.
“We want to position it on the side wall of the hall, right on the Augusta highway.
“Hopefully it never gets used, but it would be accessible to people within the town and also to people passing by on the highway if an emergency situation were to occur.”
With thousands of vehicles travelling past the town every day, a well-signed defibrillator could save a life.
Fellow committee member and nurse Kathryn Nicholls says with the nearest hospital about 18km away and ambulance officers sometimes even further afield, it’s vital the town has the device on-hand.
“You really need to have access to this machine within 5 minutes of an incident,” she says.
While the Lochiel Progress Association often raises funds for local projects, many of their ideas to improve the community rely on much-needed funding.
“I think [Regional Safety Grants] are a really good initiative,” John says.
“The offer was there to do a good thing, and RAA has put its hand up to say they’ll do that good thing.”
RAA Insurance spokesperson Shaun Ryan says the team is thrilled to have received an incredible 76 applications for the Regional Safety Grants this year.
“Every year, we’re amazed by the entries and the variety of safety initiatives community groups and individuals come up with.
“It’s always such a difficult decision to make, as we’re so impressed by the ideas that are put forward.
“We’re very excited [for] this year’s initiatives to get underway and can’t wait to see the results.”
Here’s the full list of the 2020/21 Regional Safety Grant winners:
Marion Bay Country Fire Service
Weavers Ag Bureau
Mount Torrens Centenary Park
CFS Mount Torrens
Lochiel Progress Association
Riding for the Disabled Association Yorke Peninsula
Port Lincoln State Emergency Service (SES)
Mount Barker SES Unit
Spalding District Incorporated
Regional Development Australia Yorke and Mid North Incorporated
Mount Gambier & Districts SES Unit
Strathalbyn Country Fire Service Group
Callington Memorial Hall Inc
Landcare Broken Hill Inc