This article is written, to say thank you to all those Rotarians who have assisted East Gippsland during, and since, the Black Summer Bushfires.
Readers will recall that the East Gippsland Rotary Fire Aid (EGRFA) Committee was formed on 1 January 2020 with representatives from each of the 5 Rotary Clubs in East Gippsland – Mitchell River, Bairnsdale Sunrise, Orbost, Bairnsdale, and Lakes Entrance.
For the past 2 years and 9 months this Committee of representatives has been the focal point of Rotary’s efforts to help East Gippslanders who were victims of the fires – individuals, families, and local/remote communities.
The Committee did not work alone.  Apart from all Rotarians in the Cluster, there has been a myriad of others from Rotary Clubs throughout our District and beyond.  Their help has often been in the form of cash donations.  But, also there has been countless ‘in kind’ contributions such as shipping containers, caravans, rural fencing materials, livestock fodder to name just a few.
Rotarians have also assisted ‘on the ground’ with property clearance, tree planting, BBQs, etc, and by providing that encouragement and advice so necessary during this extended task.  There are many other ways Rotary has assisted, but one most important avenue of service has been to provide a point of contact for fire victims.  This may have been to direct them to an appropriate authority or, often, just to provide a Rotarian prepared to listen to them as they tell their personal story.
In addition, much needed help has also come from Rotary International in the form of Grants, along with contributions from private companies and individuals.  Our thanks go to all.
In total, the EGRFA Committee has received over $1.3m in cash and Grants, with every cent being used to directly help to those in need.  We also estimate the value of ‘in kind’ donations has exceeded $1m.
The work of the EGRFA Committee is now drawing to a close and further tasks will continue to be coordinated through the five Clubs of the East Gippsland Cluster.
To those who have helped our cause in a multitude of ways, we offer a simple thank you from all the members of the East Gippsland Rotary Fire Aid Committee and the Rotary Clubs of East Gippsland.