Assistance dogs for returned veterans? Lights for recued koalas? Queenslanders get their chance next week to direct a $5000 bonus to one of 32 community groups statewide.
Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham today announced voting had opened in the first people’s choice poll for the Ergon Energex Community Fund.
The $150,000 community fund has this month distributed grants of up to $5000 to 32 groups from Atherton in the Far North to the Gold Coast. The people’s choice poll decides which group will receive a bonus $5000.
Dr Lynham was speaking at Strathpine on Brisbane’s northside, where he was visiting Young Diggers, a veteran’s support and advocacy group.
“Groups like Young Diggers operate in towns across the state, making a difference to local communities, many of them only able to operate because of volunteers,” he said.
“The Ergon Energex Community Fund shares almost $160,000 annually to deserving applicants and their projects.”
Young Diggers was formed in 2010 by two Vietnam veterans and their $5000 grant will help their “dog squad” train more dogs for more veterans struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses.
“As a doctor and ex-serviceperson myself I have seen firsthand how debilitating PTSD can be,” Dr Lynham said.
“Military service can be physically and mentally tough on every serviceperson and unfortunately, for many returned veterans, the hardship continues after they return.”
Young Diggers’ services include supplying and training dogs – usually rescue or donated dogs - to support returned servicepeople.
The dogs spend around six months training with their owners and a qualified volunteer animal trainer before achieving their official assistance status – similar to guide dogs.
Young Diggers general manager Terry Bell thanked Ergon and Energex for the support saying it would help with the continued training of the Service Dogs.
“It takes a lot of time and funding to train service dogs and with the help of the Ergon Energex Community Fund we look forward to continuing our service to those who have served the country,” Mr Bell said.
“Most of the service dogs we train are either donated or from rescue centres and together with Ergon and Energex, the dog squad is now a whole-of-community partnership coming together to assist our clients.”
Voting for the $5000 people’s choice bonus is open now and runs until midnight 9 June.
Find the list of recipients to vote for at www.ergon.com.au/communityfund
Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy
The Honourable Dr Anthony Lynham