Over the summer of 2019-2020, Australia’s east coast – in particular, New South Wales – experienced a deadly fire season (now, ominously known as the ‘Black Summer’), which burned through over 18 million hectares of land; killing 34 people, damaging properties, ravaging homes, endangering pets, livestock, and wildlife.
One of the regions hardest hit were the towns of the Bega Valley Shire on the South Coast of NSW, where the local Mayor estimated over 400 properties and homes were destroyed over the 34 days of fire.
An area particularly impacted, was the small town of Cobargo (pop. 800); where in addition to the tragic human cost, eight significant commercial buildings were destroyed, which resulted in the loss of 33 full and part-time employment positions, and a significant impact on the local economy.
With family connections to the area, Director Ben Atkin was contacted by the town, to see if TBH would be willing to work with the community, to help Cobargo get back on their feet. The community focus was on the Federal and State Government’s Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund and the detailed funding submission that needed to be prepared.
TBH offered their services pro bono, knowing we could provide Project Management advice, overall funding submission coordination, Construction Programs, and detailed Costings for the rebuild of four major Cobargo projects: Post Office and Market Hall; Village Square; Bushfire Resilience Centre and Community Hall.
TBH played a significant role supporting and guiding the funding submission process which aimed to demonstrate how these four projects would enhance the local economy, and put the township in a strong position to submit a robust submission and hopefully attain funding.
TBH worked as part of the funding submission team alongside the various clients, including the Cobargo Quaama Business Recovery Group Incorporated (CQBRG Inc.), and the Cobargo Community Development Corporation.
In addition, TBH worked closely with the community groups assisting in writing their business case providing input into:
- Project Management Plan
- Construction schedules
- Scope of Works
- Detailed Project Costings and cash-flow projections
- Program & Milestones
- Critical Risks – their likelihood and proposed mitigation strategies
- Identifying Legislative, Regulatory issues and approvals
The team also assisted in writing and submitting the funding application form, inputting information on the economic benefit these projects would provide for Cobargo.
TBH Project Lead, Kate Powell said, “Once we had a clear indication of the requirements, TBH got to work discussing project schedules and costings with the clients and architects assisting with the submission. The requirement being that the submission had to demonstrate how the proposed projects would benefit Cobargo or the wider community. As the various designs were iteratively developed, TBH pulled together the costings and schedules. There were many revisions and bumps along the way, and we knew full well we were going to end up working up until the deadline. But we got the submission in on time – and then the wait began to find out if the submissions were successful or not.”
In late June, the member for Bega, Andrew Constance announced the successful projects to receive funding through the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund, co-funded by the Australian and NSW Governments. The successful projects included three of the four projects TBH worked on for the people of Cobargo.
Ben Atkin said, “It was heart-breaking to see how badly the 2019 fires had ravaged the town, the people and the community of Cobargo. To have the opportunity to help these amazing people in some small way was hugely rewarding, and we were thrilled that the work TBH provided will help the community of Cobargo rebuild for a socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable future in this special part of Australia.
As the largest piece of pro bono work that TBH has ever undertaken, we are incredibly proud to have supported the Cobargo community and the successful funding submissions.”
A huge thank you to TBH’s Sydney staff who dedicated months of work to the project: Associate Director, Luke Blacka and Consultant, Kate Powell; Cost assistance from Associate Director, Stephen Birchall, and Consultants Risto Kotevski and Joshua Yeh; and Scheduling assistance by Senior Consultant Bharath Nagaraj and Consultant Ankur Nehra.
Please see the following link to Member Constance’s announcement in Bega District News.
If you’d like to learn more about TBH’s services, please visit this page.