11 September 2019

Last $$$ from Tathra Bushfire Fund, Council investigates ongoing options

| Ian Campbell
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Coinciding with the first anniversary of the Reedy Swamp, Vimy Ridge, and Tathra Bushfire comes the last allocation from the fund established to support those impacted by the flames of March 18, 2018.

Over $1.5 million was donated to the Bega Valley Mayoral Appeal – made up of donations from around Australia as well as $160,000 raised at the Band Together concert in May last year.

Approximately 75% of the money has been distributed over four rounds in 2018; the distribution committee has this week announced the fifth and final round.

The move comes as Bega Valley Shire Council investigates the establishment of an ongoing relief fund to help manage future trauma and natural disasters.

The next allocation from the existing Tathra Fund is once again aimed at those who were most severely impacted by the disaster, specifically owner/occupiers and tenants whose homes were destroyed or declared permanently uninhabitable.

At the winning post, Rex Kermode - Tathra Lions, Bega Valley Shire Mayor Kristy McBain, Chris Nicholls, Darren Jones, Jess Ryan, Rob Tweedie - Sapphire Coast Turf Club. (Absent - Peter Whiter - Band Together video and photo coordinator) Photo: Ian Campbell.

Cr McBain receiving the $160,000 raised at Band Together in May 2018. At the winning post, Rex Kermode – Tathra Lions, Bega Valley Shire Mayor Kristy McBain, Chris Nicholls, Darren Jones, Jess Ryan, Rob Tweedie – Sapphire Coast Turf Club. (Absent – Peter Whiter – Band Together video and photo coordinator). Photo: Ian Campbell.

Mayor, Cr Kristy McBain, says those eligible will be contacted directly and invited to take up the offer of further assistance.

“As a committee, we fully understand that people are at very different stages in their recovery journey and we hope that this latest allocation will provide a timely boost,” Cr McBain says.

While round five represents the last of the staged distributions, a small residual balance is being held in order to assist residents who may contact the committee in the future.

At its meeting of March 13, Council supported a motion from Cr Tony Allen to establish a Bega Valley Shire Community Disaster Relief Fund.

“The establishment of such a fund has been raised by a number of people in the community following the establishment of the Tathra and District Mayoral Fund,” Cr Allen says.

“Council officers have previously advised Council that work has commenced on investigating a model of developing a fund for the Shire auspiced through a charitable body.”

Council resolved to ask staff to investigate:

  • The steps required to establish a charitable fund to be known as the Bega Valley Shire Community Disaster Relief Fund, to operate in perpetuity with the purpose of providing financial assistance to residents and ratepayers whose homes and/or personal effects are destroyed or damaged by natural disasters within the Bega Valley Shire, such as bushfires or floods, regardless of whether applicants for assistance have insurance.
  • How Deductible Gift Recipient status for such a fund from the Australian Taxation Office could be achieved.
  • Establishment of a Committee to oversee the activities of the Fund, with the Committee to be chaired by the Mayor.
  • Operating rules for the Committee to guide its operations.
  • Promotion and advertising the creation of the Fund so as to encourage public awareness and support for its activities, and to encourage donations.

Darren Jones, one of the organisers of the Band Together concert series has welcomed the news.

“An ongoing fund like this was our original passion coming out of the first concert last year,” Mr Jones says.

“A fund that is ready to help immediately rather than one that is reactive will serve our community well.”

Mr Jones says those behind Band Together 2 on November 30 will happily discuss directing money raised at the event to the new Bega Valley Disaster Relief Fund on an ongoing basis.

For more information about the Tathra and District Mayoral Appeal Fund check Council’s website.

Donations can still be made via electronic bank transfer – BSB: 012525 Account: 837535154 or in person at ANZ Bega.

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Fraser Buchanan8:18 pm 21 Mar 19

We the Bega Valley Shire Residents and Ratepayers Association have been advocating for such a fund to be set up since the Yankees Gap fire and the loss of four homes there, we were dissapointed with councils lack of support for those people given the excellent support given to those who lost their homes in the Tathra fire, so congratulations to Clr Allen for showing true leadership on this issue

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