Australia’s mutuals fund hands out the first flood recovery grants to 21 organisations

Funding focuses on ‘local member-based organisations, including co-ops, because they foster trusted networks that are crucial for disaster response and recovery’

The Australian Mutuals Foundation (AMF) has announced the first 21 recipients of flood recovery grants from more than $210,000 raised from co-operatives, mutuals and their members around Australia.

A wide range of community-based organisations including sports clubs, community associations, education providers, co-operatives and support groups have received grants. A full list of recipients and grant amounts has been published by the AMF.

After the scale of the 2022 flooding became clear, the AMF reactivated its emergency relief fund, which had previously been used in the aftermath of the 2019 bushfires.

AMF works with co-ops and mutuals that are based in disaster areas in the distribution of funding, leveraging local knowledge to target support to local organisations.

The AMF flood grants are being delivered in partnership with the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM), Summerland Credit Union and G&C Mutual Bank.

Melina Morrison, CEO of BCCM, said that 100% of funds raised by co-ops and mutuals for the AMF flood appeal are being dispersed.

Related: Australian co-ops continue their response to devastating flood crisis

“Nothing is being held back or being diverted to administration costs,” she added. “The AMF grants are focused on supporting local member-based organisations, including co-ops, because they foster trusted networks that are crucial for disaster response and recovery.”

One of the grant recipients is Nundah Community Enterprises Co-operative, a Brisbane-based worker co-operative that supports refugees and people with disabilities by providing them with meaningful work.

In the initial flood emergency, the co-op lost stock and equipment that was used in canteens at soccer fields where they operate a refugee work program. The disruptions after the floods also saw the loss of a cleaning contract at a shopping centre that has not re-opened, as well as the delayed launch of the soccer season due to the extensive damage and additional rain.

AMF grant funding of $10,000 will allow Nundah Co-op worker-members to retain their jobs while the co-op builds back its businesses.

Richard Warner, coordinator of Nundah Co-op, notes that “beyond the vital practical support this grant offers, knowing our worker-owned social enterprise has the support of the wider co-operative and mutual movement has re-energised us as we continue to rebuild”.

Summerland Credit Union has been one of the local mutuals actively working to get the Lismore and Northern Rivers community back on its feet by setting up an emergency community banking hub with five local credit unions.

John Williams, CEO of Summerland, said that the grants will support the community to reclaim some sense of normality. “Whether it’s supporting netball clubs to get back out on the court or a community garden to reestablish, these are small but important steps in the journey towards recovery”.

BCCM is advocating for the creation of a National Co-operative Disaster Recovery Centre of Excellence in Lismore to empower grassroots recovery efforts.

In this article: