Compiled by DG Adrian from submissions by EGRFA Chair Pearl Findlay-James and D9820 Emergency Chair PDG Janne Speirs.
We can be very proud of this Committee and the East Gippsland clubs for the speedy and empathetic response made to this devastating situation in East Gippsland.  The focus has been on concentrating efforts to avoid crossing over into areas already being covered off by other service providers.
The committee has been working closely with Neighbourhood Houses and Community Centres throughout the fire affected area to identify people and families truly in need.
There is wonderful work being done in the name of Rotary; here are just some examples:
  • Sourcing & distributing hay to drought & fire affected farmers.
  • Covering (often) haulage costs for the donated hay
  • Purchasing and distributing from local stores ‘high protein’ pellets for fire affected farms breeding stock.
  • Ordering 1.5 containers of star pickets to assist with the many kilometres of fencing required to prevent stock wandering.
  • Ordering treated pine posts and wire for hobby farmers otherwise excluded.
  • Exploring the import of barbed wire for which there is a national shortage currently.
  • Making good use of the three chainsaws purchased by District and passed on from the Bunyip fires.  This is being driven by a Committee member and a group of young volunteer tradies.
  • Developing and operating a ‘money voucher’ system whereby identified fire survivor families receive funds in the format of the vouchers. These hand delivered vouchers can be redeemed across 90% of retailers & professional businesses of East Gippsland. Once a voucher is presented to a store, the store owner scans and sends the voucher to EFRFA for reimbursement by EFT.
  • Distributing new work wear (from DIK) to fire affected properties which allowed people to ‘save’ their limited clothing.
  • Distributing care packs to needy individuals and families.
  • Running Community BBQ’s & Working Bee’s where members of communities can reconnect, develop relationships and ‘talk’.
  • Sourcing & Distributing donated furniture, bedding & white goods to those in desperate need.
  • Identifying fire affected properties meeting our criteria in need of Shipping Containers to store work tools and equipment etc. securely. Three rounds of orders placed so far.
  • Families have been supported with the cleaning of tainted rainwater tanks and their commercial refilling.
  • Being a conduit for those needing professional assistance urgently.
  • Negotiating cost free lease agreements for some families that had lost their main mode of transport in the fires.
  • An amazing amount of volunteering & traveling over a vast region to assist the communities
  • Sourcing all purchasing through local businesses whenever possible.
  • Global Grants are on the agenda with a view to multiplying donated funds.
  • Community Assessments are planned to identify real needs that will meet TRFs Global Grants criteria.
The support from D9820 clubs has been incredible. Being Rotary and local, EGRFA is able to allocate 100% of the donated funds for fire relief efforts, something few other organisations can match. The committee knows they are in this for the long haul, as much of the community rebuilding is yet to commence. Expect opportunities for voluntary labour.
Rotarians are encouraged to come and spend a few nights, either in their caravans or staying in local accommodation, to help boost the badly damaged East Gippsland economy.