hand holding dirt

BHP Vital Resources Fund

The AU$50 million Vital Resources Fund is helping support regional Australian communities in our areas of operation who are facing the significant challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The AU $50M Vital Resources Fund was established in March 2020 to support the response and recovery efforts to communities facing significant challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fund is currently closed for new applications.


In the first 4 months of the pandemic, the VRF focussed on supporting communities to address the immediate needs of communities. Communities determined what they needed and responded with financial and in-kind support, resulting in BHP funding 71 projects totalling $26.9 million, across key areas:

  • Local and regional health networks for critical infrastructure, supplies and ability to maintain services and workforce;
  • Essential community services required to keep regions strong;
  • Community mental health and resilience activities;
  • Remote Indigenous communities supporting Aboriginal people to self-isolate and get back to country safely.
  • Provision of medical PPE and other health and sanitation goods to communities and organisations where supply was interrupted.


As communities began to manage the immediate changes and impacts associated with COVID-9 we worked collaboratively to change the funding available through the VRF. From July 2020 the VRF focused more deliberately on recovery, working with community groups and services to design larger-scale, longer term projects. As a result 36 projects were developed totaling $23,07 million across the following key areas:

  • People and Business keeping people employed/engaged in relevant training and supporting local businesses by increasing demand for local products and services;
  • Technology improving systems, processes and IT to strengthen economic resilience;
  • Well-being supporting primary and mental health and emotional well-being;

Examples of response projects:


Queensland and New South Wales

  • Blackwater Coal Centre - $50,000 to establish a commercial kitchen for private and community events as well as traineeships for local school students.
  • Central Queensland University - $500,000 to set up a disaster mitigation hub at CQU that would provide crisis management training to Indigenous communities to prepare for future natural and health disasters.
  • GW3 - $1.91 million to enhance regional digital infrastructure focused on upgrading public WiFi to better connect businesses and the community.
  • Isaac Regional Council - $600,000 to improve digital infrastructure at Moranbah Community Centre.
  • 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.

Western Australia

  • Exmouth Chamber of Commerce and the Shire of Exmouth - $500,000 to create tourism opportunities, build infrastructure and attract new business to Exmouth, establishing also a facility to train locals for jobs in the resources sector. Other $100,000 was funded to improve access to connectivity services (NBN/Telstra) and integrate technology into local tourism strategy and services.
  • KALKA - $1,0 million to develop technology platforms in the Western Desert to help coordinate community governance and economic activities and increase social networking across Martu communities.
  • Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa (KJ) and Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) - $1.0 million to develop 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.
  • 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.
  • Nyamal Aboriginal Corporation - $2.0 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.
  • Port Hedland Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Port Hedland - $1.0 million to develop and implement an economic development program to attract new businesses to the area.
  • Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) – $500,000 to support mental health, wellbeing and family violence programs of Thalanji Traditional Owner group and broader Aboriginal community.
  • 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.
  • Shire of East Pilbara and the Newman Chamber of Commerce - $500,000 to support an economic development program focussed on a range of tourism activities targeting the recovery of local businesses.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation (WDLAC) – $300,000 to run cultural camps in the Western Desert to help deliver culturally-appropriate on-country mental health programs. Other $250,000 was funded to finalise quarantine facilities in the Western Desert.

South Australia


  • 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.
  • Country and Outback Health – $252,600 to provide additional mental health clinician support in the Upper Spencer Gulf / Roxby Downs.
  • Child Australia – $56,000 to provide early childhood upskilling / re-entry programs to help workers return to childcare centres.
  • Far North Aboriginal Economic Collective - $153,380 to develop an Upper Spencer Gulf business recovery model, development and training initiative for Indigenous communities.
  • Kokatha Aboriginal Corporation - $250,000 to provide additional support for a successful self-isolation project. Other $685,000 funding is currently under evaluation and aims to establish a virtual Aboriginal Support Hub for the Kokatha people. 
  • Viliwarinha Yura Aboriginal Corporation (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. (To be contracted)
  • Uniting Country SA - $150,000 to provide a two-year domestic violence support program for Point Augusta


  • Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) - $770,000 to provide safe health services to Aboriginal people in the metropolitan, regional and remote areas of Western Australia.
  • Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW (AHMRC) - $970,000 to support 46 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) members of the AH&MRC where Communities are addressing local priorities.
  • Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia - $600,000 to support 11 member services by addressing essential needs including food security and hygiene packs.
  • Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) - $1,475,046 support emergency coordination support for on the ground needs, and temporary accommodation facilities.
  • Future of work partnership - $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. This is part of a larger $30M partnership with the first year funded through the VRF and subsequent years funded through the Company’s Social Investment 

COVID-19 worldwide

Supporting our people and communities around the globe

As always, the safety of our people comes before anything else. We have regional teams of specialists, across the globe, monitoring the situation to ensure the wellbeing of our employees and the safe continuity of our operations. As a global company, BHP is committed to supporting not only the communities we operate in within Australia, but around the world.