3 May 2024

Disaster relief fund sees $560,000 in donations delivered to Bega Valley community

| Albert McKnight
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Villagers from Villers-Bretonneux march in solidarity with bushfire victims. The community raised $37,000 for the Bega Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund. Photo: Supplied.

Over half a million dollars in donations sent to assist the Bega Valley community in the wake of natural disasters has gone to support more than 400 different applications.

The Bega Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund (BVCDRF) has released its annual report, which covers the period from January 2020 to mid-2022.

This is a time that saw the devastating Black Summer bushfires of 2019/2020, in which 466 homes were lost, as well as eight floods.

BVCDRF is a perpetual disaster relief fund established by the Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC), along with the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast (SJA), to accept donations for residents who have been affected by natural disasters.

The report says that by June 2021, the fund had received $761,660 in donations and that $579,327 had been distributed by mid-2022.

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For instance, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia donated $148,000, the Greek Orthodox Charitable Foundation donated $177,000, the Villers-Bretonneux community in France raised $37,000 and the organisers of the Dental Fireaid NSW conference gave $13,000.

“By June 2021 the fund had supported 405 individual applications and 12 community-led projects, programs and events focusing on alleviating community anxiety and stress,” the report says.

Rounds one and two focused on providing direct financial assistance to people impacted by the Black Summer fires.

Projects supported in rounds three and four included handmade storage units for families who lost their homes in the fires, two reflection retreats for women who suffered significant impacts from the fires, fresh food hampers for bushfire-impacted residents, the repair and distribution of pre-loved garden tools, as well as delivery of mental health programs, water, sanitation, shelter, landscaping and the replacement of household items.

“In the past year, the BVCDRF has been in a holding pattern, planning and preparing in readiness for providing immediate aid and long-term support to those affected by natural disasters,” the committee co-chair, BVSC Councillor Cathy Griff, said.

“The committee’s efforts since the fund began have only been made possible through the generosity of our donors and the tireless work of our volunteers.”

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The second committee co-chair, Mick Brosnan of the Social Justice Advocates, said the committee was pleased that in this reporting year they did not have to call on the fund to support victims of natural disasters, but that did not stop the continued work together.

“This report is a reminder that your support is vital. The BVCDRF relies on the kindness and generosity of donors,” he said.

“Your contributions enable us to be ready to respond quickly and help those in need.”

For more details on how to make a donation, click here.

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