Emergency services groups benefit from grant funding

By Shepparton News

Local volunteer emergency service groups will be able to upgrade facilities thanks to a Victorian Government grant.

Under the Volunteer Emergency Services Equipment Program, the government will match every $1 paid by volunteer groups with a $2 co-contribution, up to $150000.

The grants can be used to help fund equipment, including new vehicles, trucks and trailers.

Shepparton Search and Rescue president Michael D’Elia said the club had received the grant in the past and it had been crucial to the club’s community service.

‘‘The first time we received the grant, our main rescue truck was the first thing we bought and since then it has helped fund four, four-wheel-drives, our second truck, one of boats, a back-up generator, our main lighting tower, and the shed,’’ Mr D’Elia said said.

‘‘It’s a good grant process because we have around $700000 worth of equipment over a length of time that this community wouldn’t have had.’’

Although the squad received some funding from the local council, the club did not receive any state or federal funding.

Mr D’Elia said the program helped to upgrade the facility as the yearly allowance was used for operational, day-to-day costs, such as petrol and electricity bills.

In previous years, second-hand community fundraising allowed the club to apply and co-contribute to the grant.

Mr D’Elia said the group operated for the community and was funded by the community.

‘‘Most of our fundraising is actually using other groups to help us to fundraise,’’ he said.

‘‘We get really great support from local groups and secondary schools.’’

More than $77million has been allocated to emergency volunteer groups under the scheme in the past five years.

State Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp urged emergency service groups to apply for the grant.

‘‘Our emergency service volunteers help keep us safe, and we need to make sure they have the right tools and support to get their job done,’’ he said.

Last year the grant increased its co-contribution to $150000 to make sure clubs had access to life-saving equipment.

Mr D’Elia said the club was still deciding on what to spend money on.

‘‘We wouldn’t be in the position that we are now with the level of equipment we have without this grant.’’