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Victorian Bushfire Appeal provides further $1.4 million to community charities

15 July 2020 |Appeals
Funding to provide essential medium to long-term support

Bendigo Bank, in partnership with the Victorian Government, has announced a further $1.4 million - raised through the Victorian Bushfire Appeal - has been distributed to five Victorian, community-based charities working to support to those affected by this summer’s devastating bushfires in their on-going recovery.

More than $800,000 has been provided to Gateway Health Wangaratta, Centre Against Violence, Ovens Murray District and Gippsland Lakes Complete Health, East Gippsland to enhance its family violence prevention programs, and better support those recovering from bushfire-induced trauma.

Leigh Rhode, CEO, Gateway Health, Kerry Burns, CEO, Centre Against Violence and Sue Medson, CEO, Gippsland Lakes Complete Health agreed all three organisations had experienced an increase in demand for their family and domestic violence services and programs, and expect this demand to increase further.

“The combination of the destructive summer bushfires and the implementation of strict COVID-19 related restrictions puts additional strain on all family and intimate relationships. This extra financial assistance from the Victorian Bushfire Appeal will help us to allocate additional resources to crisis counselling, sexual assault services and early intervention and response work, so we can support more women and children experiencing family violence and raise awareness in communities that violence is not a reasonable response.”

A further $600,000 of Appeal funds has been allocated to Albury Wodonga Regional Foodshare and Blazeaid Victoria, to ensure both organisations can continue to support communities in their bushfire recovery.

Simon Welsh, Chair, Albury Wodonga Regional Foodshare said the new funding will bolster its services in the Towong and Alpine Shires, in particular.

“Foodshare has been instrumental in receiving and distributing food to bushfire affected communities over the last number of months. However, with food insecurity set to continue to be an issue for many in our region, these new funds will allow us to further improve our services and ultimately help more people,” Mr Welsh said.

Kevin Butler, Founder and President, BlazeAid said the additional finance pledged by the Victorian Bushfire Appeal - to complement the $1 million already provided - will be used to further help farmers in the bushfire affected communities of Buchan, Bruthen, Corryong, Cann River, Newmerella and Wulgulmerang.

“The recovery from these bushfires will take many weeks and months. This new funding will allow BlazeAid to continue to assist local farmers with the expensive and essential recovery process, facilitate the creation of new base camps for new volunteer teams, and encourage more productive fence rebuilding,” Mr Butler said.

Alexandra Gartmann, Executive Corporate Affairs, Bendigo Bank, said the disaster recovery process will continue to take many months and years, but that a consistent and sustained approach to rebuilding lives and communities will be the key to its success.

“It is a marathon, not a sprint. We approach our natural disaster support seeking to ensure a strong focus on an appropriate mix of short term and medium to long term recovery measures that will best support impacted communities,” Ms Gartmann said.

“There is no quick fix and Appeal funds will continue to be distributed to those most in need - especially those unable to access government support or private insurance.

“We know the ripple effect of the destruction caused by these bushfires will be felt for months or years to come and will impact wellbeing, mental health, sustainability of small businesses, and education opportunities, among other things. These views are not formed by remote ‘head office’ people, they are informed by Community Bank members who have lived-experienced from Black Saturday and other major disasters, and by natural disaster recovery experts.”

To date, the Victorian Bushfire Appeal - conducted by Bendigo Bank’s charitable arm, Community Enterprise Foundation in partnership with the Victorian Government - has raised more than $36 million for fire impacted communities in Victoria, with the generous support continuing despite the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funds raised have already been made available and distributed to a range of organisations working with local communities in their recovery, including; The Salvation Army, the Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund, BlazeAid, Windermere Child & Family Services, The Man From Snowy River Festival, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency Co-Op, Moogji Aboriginal Council East Gippsland Inc and Gippsland & East Gippsland Aboriginal Co-Op.

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