Despite great success in its early weeks in attracting community support and donations, the Rotary fundraising campaign to help farmers, businesses and families suffering devastation from the recent bushfires faces fresh new challenges.
“We are starting to see true cases of desperate hardship, with farmers and communities trying to rebuild from nothing. Some have farm insurance but, even so, they are not fully covered. Without even basic infrastructure, it is impossible to earn a livelihood farming; at the moment there is no way you can keep stock in or protect or water your crops”, says Margaret Barnes, Rotary Central West Bushfire Appeal Co-ordinator.
With more than 6,000 km of fencing and dozens of homes and farm buildings destroyed or damaged, and the loss of more than 12,000 head of cattle and sheep, the cost is expected to run into tens of millions of dollars. While the farmers and local residents in the bushfire areas are most affected, many businesses in our community also risk being hit as the affected farmers and residents are no longer in a position to make their normal purchases from local shops and farm suppliers.
“The Sir Ivan fire was the largest recorded grassfire in Australia’s history and caused huge devastation, so our priority has been to maintain our fundraising efforts while releasing money to meet the urgent needs of those affected on the ground. We recently made an initial distribution of $25,000 to help buy urgently needed fencing materials so that the BlazeAid volunteers can get on with the task of erecting replacement fencing on affected farms”, Mrs Barnes said.
Rotary’s fundraising efforts received a boost with a $15,000 donation from Moolarben Coal to the bushfire relief fund, along with many generous donations from residents, businesses and other Rotary Clubs. In addition, the more than $2,500 in proceeds from the Rotary-run monthly Movies at Mudgee Town Hall have been allocated to the bushfire relief fund.
One other noteworthy donation was from 7 year old budding Mudgee “entrepreneur” Cooper Callaghan, who sold to family and friends the rock crystals he had collected and donated the proceeds to the campaign.
Donations – fully tax deductible - can be made online at mudgeerotary.wordpress.com or in donation boxes at many shops and businesses around Mudgee.