Communities across Australia’s fire zones have felt comfort from the presence of ADF personnel this summer. Their skills and sheer ‘manpower’ have been welcomed by many towns reeling from the impact of bushfires. On Tuesday, Australian Defence Force personnel packed up the distribution point at Mackay Park in Batemans Bay and came to Eurobodalla Shire Council with a presentation.
“All Australian Defence Force personnel involved feel honoured to have been able to establish and manage the distribution point in Batemans Bay for donated goods in support of the overwhelming generosity of Australians,” Commanding Officer of the Combat Services Support Battalion Task Group, Lieutenant Colonel Reuben Bowd, said.
Arriving in the Eurobodalla on 3 January 2020 as part of Operation Bushfire Assist 2019-20, a small team of ADF personnel were quickly tasked by Eurobodalla’s Emergency Operations Centre to establish a distribution point for the truckloads of donated goods coming into the shire.
Local Emergency Management Officer Warren Sharpe said the nation’s generosity in response to the bushfires was overwhelming.
“I think it’s fair to say the entire community was incredibly grateful for the heartfelt support shown by people all around the country,” Mr Sharpe said.
“Having the Army step in to manage the donated goods meant those in need could get the essentials they needed, like food, clothing and bedding, while the emergency services and other local agencies could continue their focus on the fires and helping those impacted start their recovery.
“Eurobodalla’s emergency operations team would like to thank the ADF for their support and we extend our gratitude to the personnel who spent time with our community. They brought efficiency to a dire situation and offered dignity and kindness to people in distress. I can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done for us.”
Lieutenant Colonel Bowd confirmed he is confident the distribution point is no longer required, saying the few remaining goods will be redistributed to local charities.
“The NSW Government recovery services and agencies such as the Red Cross, Anglicare, and St Vinnies are able to and will without doubt continue to provide the community with ongoing assistance over the coming weeks and months,” Lieutenant Colonel Bowd said.
“I’d like to thank Batemans Bay Tigers Rugby League Club for providing their clubhouse for accommodation and use of Mackay Park, as well as Ryan Ward, who worked shoulder to shoulder with us, giving up his time and heavy lifting equipment to help, and all local business and community organisations in Batemans Bay and the Eurobodalla Shire that have donated food, water, and other urgent provisions during the crisis,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the team at Mackay Park, Captain Deb Shadlow said it had been the greatest pleasure to have the opportunity to provide support to the community during this unprecedented event.
“A heartfelt thank you goes out to the community for their very warm welcome to Batemans Bay during their time of need,” Captain Shadlow said.
Anyone impacted by the fires can go to the Recovery Centre at the Soldiers Club in Batemans Bay for assistance and support. Open weekdays 9 am – 5 pm and weekends 10 am – 4 pm.