Grants stimulate community projects

SA Power Networks has announced the recipients of its first South Australian Community Grants scheme, who work for their communities across the state.

In the farmlands of the Eyre Peninsula, weather reports are pointing to more than a prime day to get the job done. They also announce conditions for stalled implements – when high wind speed, low relative humidity and an errant spark from a farm vehicle conspire to cause a devastating fire.

Having accurate, hyper-local weather information is crucial for many reasons. One is that although the industry code of practice for grain harvesting is voluntary, recent changes to the Fire and Emergency Services Act mean that landowners must “take reasonable measures” to prevent fires. Failure to do so incurs significant financial penalties.

The Mangalo War Memorial Community Center is one of twenty-six recipients of SA Power Networks’ first South Australian community grants scheme. This enabled them to install a weather station to serve the district, which spans over 500 square kilometers north of Cleve.

Cindy Hannemann applied for the Mangalo grant and says community weather surveys, risk calculations and the issuance of harvest bans are done by a committee of volunteers.

“The challenge we had is that some of these volunteers farm in multiple areas, not just Mangalo,” says Hannemann.

“Having this weather station in Mangalo gives us an accurate reading for the area no matter where the committee is working.”

While Cleve is only 25 kilometers away, relying on their data does not paint an accurate picture of Mangalo’s conditions.

She says they’ve been “lucky enough to have the no-harvest committee” with only “a few fires over the past few years.”

“Making sure that we reap [non] days of fire danger, means we can usually control it before it becomes a big problem,” she explains.

“You know, it’s a small burnt room rather than multiple properties.”

The weather station will also allow the community to monitor rainfall and weather conditions to make crop spraying decisions.

In Adelaide, the Zimbabwe Community of South Australia (ZICOSA) is another SA Power Networks community grant recipient.

Their group is dedicated to bringing together and engaging with the Zimbabwean community, as well as encouraging multiculturalism in South Australia. Their grant was for a specially designed barbecue trailer.

ZICOSA’s Kennedy Mavunganidze says the nearly completed barbecue caravan is likely to seat up to 600 people at a time, but will also serve a dual purpose.

“Culturally, we tend to come together as families to either catch up [and] supporting each other.

“So it’s ideal in that we don’t have to figure out where to cook, who can provide the barbecue.

“This trailer has a gas grill and a charcoal grill. It will also have green energy from solar panels, as well as a battery bank and inverter.

Mavunganidze says ZICOSA is trying to educate its community to “think green”.

“We want our members and the community at large to see that you can also use solar power outside the home… [Here] they will see a barbecue with the lights and the sound system running on solar energy.

SA Power Networks Executive GM Client and Community Executive Jess Vonthethoff was delighted to report the successful projects.

“The grants were created to help communities empower themselves and make a tangible difference in their area,” says Vonthethoff.

“We were amazed and encouraged by the diversity of nominees and ideas and it was difficult to sort through them all to find our winners.

“There are so many groups doing important and wonderful things in their communities and we are happy to be able to provide seed capital to help them take the next step.”

From more than 120 applications, SA Power Networks awarded twenty-six grants across the state, including locations such as Hawker in the Flinders Ranges, Murray Bridge, APY Lands and Kangaroo Island, as well as Adelaide.

Applications were invited for projects addressing four priority areas: keeping the community safe; supporting SA Power Networks customers and community; supporting sustainable SA; and supporting innovation for future growth.

The list of grant recipients includes Adelaide and Hills Koala Rescue, Findon High School, Jigsaw Adelaide, Murray Bridge Community Centre, Murray Mallee General Practice Network, Sturt Football Club and SIDS and Kids SA.


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Edward L. Robinett