flowers jimblebar

COVID support for regional communities reaches A$50m

BHP’s Vital Resources Fund, designed to help regional communities through the coronavirus pandemic, has now delivered A$50 million to hundreds of businesses, and families across Australia with a focus on the regions where we operate.

The fund was established by BHP in March 2020 to contribute to the immediate needs of communities facing impacts from the pandemic, and then to help organisations and local businesses participate in economic recovery.

BHP President Minerals Australia Edgar Basto said the Vital Resources Fund has delivered assistance to 89 organisations, reaching more than 700,000 people including 140,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“The resilience and determination of businesses, organisations, towns and families across regional Australia in the face of national crisis has been incredible and humbling. BHP is proud that we were able to do our part in supporting the very communities that support us. From everything we’ve seen, the communities where we operate are well positioned to lead Australia toward economic recovery,” Mr Basto said.

Examples of how the funding has been put to good use in regional Australian communities include:

  • To secure personal protective equipment for medical personnel and cleaning and sanitising products
  • Food relief and daily essentials to vulnerable families
  • Transport services
  • Increased accessibility to mental health services
  • Additional COVID-19 testing services
  • Support to family and domestic violence services 
  • Upgraded technology equipment, infrastructure and processes to strengthen economic resilience
  • To keep people employed or engaged in relevant training
  • Support to local businesses by increasing demand for local products and services
  • Support for health, mental health and emotional wellbeing

Fast facts

BHP’s Vital Resource Fund (VRF) has distributed A$50 million*, indirectly supporting more than 290 organisations and 300 local businesses.

To date, more than 700,000 people have directly benefitted from the VRF, including more than 140,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, more than 60 indigenous communities and nearly 9,000 socially isolated people.

In total, the VRF has provided:

  • $6.1 million to national projects supporting the regions where we operate** and more
  • $18.1 million to the communities where we operate in Queensland and New South Wales
  • $4.6 million in South Australia
  • $19.4 million in Western Australia

An additional $1.6 million has been used to source and purchase medical personal protective equipment and other hygiene supplies.

Other relief measures introduced by BHP include: reduced payment terms for small suppliers to provide critical cash flow during the pandemic peak; hired an additional 1500 people on six-month contracts to support its Australian operations; and created a $6 million fund to support labour hire companies and their employees.


Response phase: In the first six months of the pandemic, the VRF provided more than A$25 million to address the immediate needs and impacts being felt by communities in the regions where we operate and across Australia.

These initiatives focused on local and regional health networks for critical services and workforce support; maintaining the functioning and reach of essential community services; and supporting remote Indigenous Australians to get back to country safely.

Of those funds:

  • more than $600,000 went to national projects
  • more than $13.4 million went to projects in Queensland or New South Wales
  • almost $2.2 million went to projects in South Australia
  • more than $9.1 million went to projects in Western Australia

In addition, we spent almost $1.6 million sourcing and purchasing medical personal protective equipment and other supplies to distribute throughout communities across Australia.

See projects funded by state during response phase.

Recovery phase: Between September 2020 and June 2021, BHP committed around $23 million in further funding to 34 additional projects. These focused on supporting recovery in the regions where we operate.

While response donations were more immediate and reactive, designed to support efforts where communities needed it most, recovery projects were developed to address the community-specific impacts resulting from the crisis. These were longer term and designed to provide additional investment to support people and economies, to bolster their ability to take advantage of recovery once it hit, as well as strengthen community resilience.

The spend was distributed across projects focused on: people and business (more than $10.5 million); technology (more than $5.5 million); and wellbeing (more than $7 million).

Of those funds:

  • more than $5.5 million have been to committed to national projects
  • more than $4.7 million have been committed to projects in Queensland or New South Wales
  • more than $2.4 million have been committed to projects in South Australia
  • more than $10.3 million have been committed to projects in Western Australia

*All figures are in Australian dollars

**Funds have focused on projects that benefit people in: the Bowen Basin in Central Queensland; the Hunter Valley in New South Wales; Roxby Downs and the Upper Spencer Gulf in South Australia; the Pilbara and Goldfields regions in Western Australia; and supported by various state-based Aboriginal Community Controlled Health organisations.

Read more:

BHP Vital Resources page.

BHP COVID-19 response page.

General news releases:

25 March 2020 | BHP establishes $50 million (AUD) Vital Resources Fund to help support regional communities

6 May 2020 | BHP Vital Resources Fund reaches half-way mark | BHP

7 May 2020 | BHP continues global response to COVID-19

Local news releases featuring the work of our community partners:

28 April 2020 | BHP partners with health services to deliver COVID-19 Testing Centres in regional Central Queensland

8 May 2020 | Supporting Health Services

8 May 2020 | Providing Community support

12 May 2020 | Ramping up mental health support in Roxby Downs

12 May 2020 | Supporting the services that keep communities going

20 May 2020 | How Carly is helping the Kokatha People through COVID19

26 May 2020 | BHP Vital Resources Fund provides A$3.3M for Aboriginal health services

26 May 2020 | Five steps to protect Indigenous communities near BHP mine sites

26 May 2020 | Providing supplies to the skies for rescue helicopter service

5 May 2021 | BHPs Vital Resources Fund supports WA communities

Projects funded by state during recovery phase (all figures are in Australian dollars)

Queensland and New South Wales

  • Mackay Hospital - $290,000 to enhance telehealth services for Isaac region.
  • Upper Hunter Community Service - $850,000 to construct a new community centre in South Muswellbrook.
  • GW3 - $1,917,450 to enhance regional digital infrastructure focused on upgrading public WiFi to better connect businesses and the community.
  • Central Queensland University - $500,000 to set up a disaster mitigation hub at CQU that would provide crisis management training to Indigenous communities to better them prepare for future natural and health disasters.
  • Blackwater Coal Centre - $50,000 to establish a commercial kitchen for corporate catering, weddings and functions, community events and traineeships for local school students.
  • Isaac Regional Council - $600,000 to improve digital infrastructure at Moranbah Community Centre.
  • Vanguard Health - $493,000 to continue operating COVID-19 testing facilities in North Queensland.

Western Australia

  • Shire of East Pilbara and the Newman Chamber of Commerce - $500,000 to develop and implement a tourism economic development program to attract new businesses and tourists to the area.
  • PAMS - $500,000 to address mental health and emotional wellbeing issues for Martu people in Newman and the Western Desert.
  • WA Council of Social Service (WACOSS) and Hedland Well Women's - $1.1 million to address the increase in family domestic violence through projects in the Pilbara that focus on males as perpetrators and prevention.
  • Port Hedland Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Port Hedland - $1 million to develop and implement an economic development program to attract new businesses to the area.
  • Nyamal Aboriginal Corporation - $2 million to provide 28 mobile emergency communication modules, used to make video conference calls, to remote Aboriginal communities, increasing digital connectivity and access to critical services.
  • Exmouth Chamber of Commerce and the Shire of Exmouth - $500,000 to create tourism opportunities, build infrastructure and attract new business to Exmouth; plus help establish a facility to train locals for jobs in the resources sector.
  • Exmouth Chamber of Commerce and the Shire of Exmouth - $100,000 to improve access to connectivity services (NBN/Telstra) and integrate technology into their local tourism strategy and services.
  • PAMS - $500,000 to work with the Thalanji Traditional Owner group and broader Aboriginal community to support mental health, wellbeing and family violence programs.
  • Shire of Ashburton and the Onslow Chamber of Commerce - $500,000 to develop and implement a tourism economic development program to attract new businesses and tourists to the area.
  • NAHS, Shire of Leonora, HOPE and the AMS - $893,000 to develop specific mental health programs for the Wiluna and Leonora communities, focused on town-based and remote servicing and establishing cultural camps.
  • Tijwarl Aboriginal Corporation - $200,000 to provide premises in Leinster and Leonora from which local Aboriginal businesses can operate to create additional Aboriginal employment and business opportunities.
  • KJ and PAMS - $1 million for a ‘return to country’ strategy and associated programs to identify challenges and opportunities to strengthen how communities in the Western Desert respond to current issues and future pandemics or crises.
  • WDLAC - $250,000 to finalise quarantine facilities in the Western Desert.
  • KALKA - $1 million towards technology platforms in the Western Desert to help coordinate community governance and economic activities and increase social networking across Martu communities.
  • WDLAC - $300,000 for cultural camps in the Western Desert to help deliver culturally-appropriate on-country mental health programs.

South Australia

  • Country and Outback Health - $252,600 to provide additional mental health clinician support in the Upper Spencer Gulf / Roxby Downs.
  • Kokatha Aboriginal Corporation - $250,000 to provide additional support for a successful self-isolation project.
  • Uniting Country SA - $150,000 to provide a two-year domestic violence support program for Point Augusta.
  • Far North Aboriginal Economic Collective - $153,380 towards an Upper Spencer Gulf business recovery, development and training initiative for Indigenous communities.
  • Child Australia - $56,066 for early childhood upskilling / re-entry programs to help workers return to childcare centres.
  • APOMA - $114,000 to support business development activities and start a new co-operative for Andamooka.
  • Career Co - $35,000 to support the development of an online careers platform for the Upper Spencer Region.
  • YVAC - $759,000 to support the establishment of a tourism, arts and bush tucker business venture to create income and employment opportunities for the local Indigenous community as well connecting to and sharing culture and country. 
  • Kokatha Aboriginal Corporation - $695,000 to establish a local Aboriginal Support Hub for displaced and vulnerable people.


  • PriceWaterhouseCoopers - $5.5 million to partner with the federal Department of Education, Skills and Employment to provide short-course scholarships and advanced apprenticeships in a variety of sectors across Australia.

Pictured: Alana Rossman from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, a member service of the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW.