Mental health services in communities devastated by Black Summer bushfires have been bolstered by a $1 million donation from News Corp Australia.
The grant, provided to the Rural and Remote Mental Health charity, will help pay for early intervention strategies and suicide prevention training in areas still struggling in the 2019-20 disaster’s aftermath.
News Corp Australia Community Ambassador Penny Fowler told The Australian newspaper that the initiatives would help provide a vital lifeline.
“Droughts, floods, bushfires and a global pandemic have dealt relentless devastation and hardship, unleashing a storm of community challenges ranging from basic human needs for shelter, food and survival through to the silent killers lurking in the shadows,” she said.
“News Corp Australia has extensively supported the immediate recovery but communities were telling us of a greater challenge."
“While many Australians have moved on from the ‘forgotten crisis’, those in rural and remote communities are constantly reminded of the trauma and devastation of those horrific months, causing significant impacts on mental health.”
News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller said the company was committed to investing in rural mental health, with this ethos reflected in the work of its journalists.
“I am proud of how our teams at News Corp have stood with the local communities to assist their recovery,” he said.
The $1m donation brings the company’s total donations to communities impacted by the bushfires, which razed millions of hectares of land along the east coast and killed dozens of Australians, to $4.2m.
Other recent grants have included $80,000 for a new bus for the Clifton Creek Primary School in northeast Victoria, which Ms Fowler said would “support not just a school but an entire community”.
News Corp Australia’s commitment to supporting the recovery of wildlife and landscapes also continues.
A Landcare Australia project in Victoria has seen volunteers and landholders restore habitat for Glossy Black Cockatoos, including with the installation of nest boxes to replace hollows lost in the fires.
More than 10,000 native trees and shrubs have also been planted in Victoria, while in Queensland revegetation and environmental restoration will create wildlife corridors to enhance native habitats.