A large part of my message this month is about the bush fires and the magnificent way Rotarians both inside and outside our District have responded. There is so much to be proud of.
 
Rotary Fire Relief
Here in District 9820, clubs and members, clusters, as well as affiliated Rotary groups, have responded wonderfully to the catastrophic bushfires in East Gippsland (not to mention the fires in Eastern Australia, South Australia and Western Australia).
 
There is so much going on that I can only mention a few things.
 
I must in particular mention our East Gippsland Rotary Fire Aid (EGRFA) committee comprising representatives of the five East Gippsland Clubs. Chair, Pearl Findlay-James and the committee are doing an amazing job supported by our enthusiastic District Emergency Chair, PDG Janne Speirs.
 
Many Rotary affiliates have stepped up to support EGRFA and their work. Some examples are:
  • Rotary Foundation has provided USD $25k grant for high energy stock feed pellets.
  • RAWCS has granted $15k from the Rotary Benevolent Society (Dick Smith) Fund.
  • District 9800 has got onto a large number of 20ft and 40ft Containers at a discounted $500 cost, delivered to site.  These are ideal where all secure storage has been lost in the fires.
  • Thousands of P2 facemasks have been received and sent to throughout Australia, including to EGRFA via Donations In Kind (DIK),
  • King Gee workwear donated to DIK has been passed to EGRFA.
  • Bairnsdale Rotary‚Äôs existing hay project for drought affected farmers is receiving 364 large bales of hay donated by Melbourne Water.
Clubs have been exceptional in providing funding for EGRFA, with many donating from existing reserves, by committing funds raised at various existing planned events to fire aid, and by planning special events to raise funds.
 
The Mornington Peninsula Cluster are collectively planning a major fundraising dinner, while some clubs have been organising hay donations.
 
On the national scene, the National Bushfire Appeal being collected through RAWCS at time of writing is around $730K, with the majority of that having come from overseas Rotarians and Rotary affiliated groups.
 
The fundraiser set up by District 9800 with Carlton United Breweries and Bendigo Bank is now over $1m.
 
I chaired a meeting on 30th January, where the District Governors Committee, Rotary Australia World Community Service (RAWCS) and the Rotary Foundation agreed to partner to better coordinate funds and capabilities to support bushfire recovery.  It makes sense and will, I hope, be a model for the future.
 
Districts throughout the world are keen to commit District Designated Funds (DDF) to support fire related Global Grant Projects.