Supporting Our Neighbours Program case study - Greenview

Farmers bouncing back from devastating bushfires

As many landholders and communities can attest, the bushfires of 2019/2020 were the worst that they have experienced, causing much devastation and trauma.

Following this natural disaster, the NSW Government announced the ‘Supporting Our Neighbours Program’ which would provide funding assistance to help bushfire affected landholders with the cost of rebuilding boundary fences adjoining public lands following the 2019/20 bushfires.

This Program has been credited by landholders as providing valuable support in the early stages of recovery, a view that is shared by Warren Allen from Adelong.

Warren’s bushfire story

Warren has lived and worked on “Greenview” his entire life, having been born on the property in 1937. Over many years, Warren and his family has worked hard through good times and bad to make the best of their land and farming opportunities, making the property a profitable enterprise and setting it up for future generations.

A man wearing a light coloured wide brim hat, slightly smiling at the camera

Like many farmers in the local community and across NSW, Warren was greatly impacted by the 2019/20 bushfires, with his farming business suffering substantial impacts.

“I’ve seen many bushfires in my time but this one was just horrific, to say the least,” Warren said.

“We lost 107 head of cattle, our boundary and internal fencing was all damaged, we lost a shed, machinery, cattle yards, the list goes on.

“We then had to spend tens of thousands of dollars on fodder for 4 or 5 months to feed our stock as we knew we couldn’t afford to sell them and then buy back in at a later date.”

While Warren and his farm were greatly impacted, he knows others who fared even worse.

“The farmers around here had a real bad time. Some neighbours lost homes, houses and other possessions that really can’t be replaced. I’ve never seen a fire like it.”

Fire destroying a fence and the land behind it, the sky is smokey

Supporting Our Neighbours Program announced

Following the devastating bushfires, Warren contacted Local Land Services to enquire if there was any funding support available for impacted landholders. A few weeks later, Warren received a call from Local Land Services, who informed him the Supporting Our Neighbours Program, a boundary fencing rebuilding program, was open and would he like to apply.

In Warren’s instance, there were 2 separate properties he owned, one adjoining to Crown Lands and the other adjoining Roads and Maritime Services, that had been impacted by the bushfires, making him eligible. Warren submitted his application and was pleased to be successful in receiving funding to rebuild 8.8km of his boundary fence.

“Getting the funding support made a big difference,” Warren said.

“It allowed us to get the materials, get a contractor on and get straight to work. We were able to complete the work a lot quicker.

“We’ve still got some internal fencing that was damaged by the bushfires that need repair or replacement, and we’ll get to it when we can.”

Warren completes his project

A bit over 12 months after the bushfire roared across his property destroying everything in its path, Warren completed his fencing project. This marked a major milestone for Warren, his family and farming business in the recovery process from the bushfires.

Following a major emergency event such as the bushfires, the first steps in the recovery process are often the hardest ones to take. Over 3 years after the event and Warren is continuing to deal with the fall-out.

“All the organisations that were involved in supporting us were great to deal with and we can’t thank them enough for their support. Of particular note were Local Land Services and BlazeAid,” Warren said.

“I’ll never get over it (the bushfire), the stress and what we all went through.

“You go out into the paddock and you notice things that are gone because of the bushfire. Things that had been there all my life and well before that, they’re no longer there and it’s just sad.”

Newly built fence on Warren's land

Program outcomes

Through the Supporting Our Neighbours Program, 3,473 applications from landholders were funded, with nearly 5,700km of fencing bordering public lands re-constructed.

While the Program achieved some great outcomes, it faced a number of challenges including COVID-19, severe storms, floods and prolonged wet weather, which impacted on landholders’ abilities to deliver their contracts.

The role of Local Land Services in emergency management

Local Land Services, along with other NSW Government departments and agencies, plays a vital role in supporting landholders in emergency management for natural disasters and biosecurity emergencies. In recent years, this has included bushfires, floods, severe weather events, varroa mite, fall armyworm, brown marmorated stink bug and khapra beetle responses.

Visit our disasters and emergencies page for more information.

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