IMB Bank Community Foundation has announced funding for 65 community groups and projects tackling the needs of local communities, with 11 of these based in the South Coast and Far South Coast.
Local organisations to benefit include the Arts Council of Eurobodalla, the Bega District Volunteer Rescue Group, Bega Men's Shed, Community Work Shed, Eurobodalla Woodcraft Guild, Far South Coast Family Support Services, Narooma Men's Shed, Shoalhaven Heads Native Botanic Garden, TeenSafe, Towamba Rural Fire Brigade and Wolumla Rural Fire Brigade.
The grant funding for 65 grassroots groups and projects in 2021, takes the IMB Foundation's 22-year community grant funding total to $11m.
In a telling reflection of the state of our nation, over one-third of IMB Bank Community Foundation 2021 funded projects seek to improve mental health and wellbeing in local communities.
The new funding comes as one in five Australians report high levels of psychological distress due to COVID, which is a stark jump from 20 years ago (9.6% Australians reported psychological conditions).
Men's Sheds, parent and families' programs, seniors initiatives and health-and-fitness programs will all receive funding to combat isolation, disadvantage and mental strains caused by the global pandemic.
The Arts Council of Eurobodalla will use its funding for art materials for classes so participants can create artworks to showcase at its annual exhibition.
Two organisations, Bega District Volunteer Group and the Shoalhaven Heads Native Botanic Garden will use funding to purchase defibrillation machines.
Bega District Volunteer Rescue Group will purchase a back-up defibrillation machine to respond to cardiac arrest instances and provide CRP first aid.
Two district Men's Sheds will benefit from the funding, the Bega Men's Shed and the Narooma Men's Shed.
Health and safety will be approved at the Bega facility after the purchase of dust extraction systems which can be used during construction of projects utilising wood.
At the Narooma Men's Shed the funds will be used to replace a table saw which is used for 65% of community projects.
At the Moruya Community Work Shed the funding will be used to fabricate and install stairs and a hand-railing at the Moruya base to access a loft area for storing work projects.
After it was destroyed in the 2019 bushfires Eurobodalla Woodcraft Guild will use its funds to purchase new equipment.
At the Far South Coast Family Support Services funds will be used to train a Play Therapist to support children in the Bega Valley who are experiencing trauma.
Funds provided to TeenSafe will go towards supporting the upkeep of a vehicle fleet to operate safe-driver training courses for teen L and P plate drivers in Moruya.
And two Rural Fire Brigades, Towamba and Wolumla will purchase a generator cage, a hose drying rack and helmet-mounted torches for firefighting duties.
IMB Bank CEO Robert Ryan believes this year's IMB Bank Community Foundation project funding echoes the diversity of Australia's people and landscape, and the challenges they face during a once in a hundred-year pandemic.
"This year we have focused on the importance of volunteers and addressing local need as communities reconnect," said Mr Ryan.
"We're supporting 65 projects, across a very diverse spectrum. It's positive news for many parts of the community who have endured a challenging 12 months."
IMB Bank Community Foundation's funding announcement comes at a time when almost half of not-for-profits are reporting increased demand and reduced income. Compounding these challenges is a decline in volunteering (from 36% in 2019 to 24.2% in 2021) triggered by COVID.
Now in its 22nd year, IMB Bank Community Foundation is proud to have supported more than 800 community groups and projects across NSW, ACT and VIC, with over $11million donated since 1999.
"The IMB Bank Community Foundation recognises the hard work of everyday Australians who are tackling the struggles of their local community head-on, and making a real difference," said Mr Ryan.
"Through grant funding, the Foundation is humbled to play a small but important role. It's the people on the ground who make all the difference, they're the ones helping others during these challenging times."
IMB Bank is one of the longest-standing financial organisations in NSW and was named one of the World's Best Banks by Forbes magazine in 2020. Its Community Foundation program is considered one of the best of its kind in Australia.