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  • Rubie Tran

Thank you for the overwhelming response to Australia Bushfire Appeal

Updated: Mar 3, 2022

Last November, the Australian Mutuals Foundation (AMF) launched the Australia Bushfire Appeal. While initially seeking donations from Australian Mutual Banks and Credit Unions only, the appeal became an international effort due to media coverage and support from the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM), the Asian Confederation of Credit Unions (ACCU) and the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU).

The response was overwhelming, with over $385,598 raised for communities impacted by bushfires and severe drought conditions. A Bushfire Grants Committee consisting of representatives from Mutual Banks and Credit Unions was formed to review all grant applications.

To date, grants totaling $254,500 have been awarded to more than 20 organisations to help them recover and rebuild their communities. In addition, $59,866 was donated to the St Vincent De Paul Society at the peak of the bushfires for emergency relief.

The donations from Mutuals/Credit Unions and co-operatives around the world reflect their commitment to co-operation and their concern for the community, two of the core Co-operative Principles.

“Co-operatives and mutuals exist not only for the benefit of their members, but also for the wider community. The response to the appeal is yet another example of organisations demonstrating their point of difference,” AMF Manager Brian Bennett said.

“In recent times we have seen much sadness, devastation, and disruption to our daily lives so it is truly heartening to know that co-operatives and Mutuals/Credit Unions are determined to help their world and their community recover and grow stronger and more resilient,” Brian Bennett said.

The distribution of funds is ongoing, and funds will continue to be directed towards communities in need.

Some examples of grant recipients include:

Bermagui Lions Club

Having supported its members through the hardships of bushfires and COVID-19, Bermagui Lions Club will use part of the grant to install AEDs (Automatic External Defibrillators) in local villages and districts.

Grant funds will also be directed towards a recovery fund set up by the local community-owned hardware co-operative, which provided essential emergency supplies for fire victims.

Conjola Community Recovery Association

The villages of the Conjola area in NSW were hit badly by the 2019 New Year’s Eve bushfires, with three lives lost, 120 homes destroyed, another 30 deemed uninhabitable and many more sustaining damage.

While enduring eight days without power, completely cut off from outside help, the remaining residents formed the Conjola Community Recovery Team. For the first eight weeks, the volunteer centre opened every day, maintaining long hours to provide a shoulder to cry on, access to basic goods, help with finding temporary housing and with accessing government support services. As the months passed, the team continued to support the local area, both with fundraising and planning a new infrastructure to build resilience, connectedness and ensure enhancement of the Conjola community environment following this disaster.

Lithgow Community Nursery

The 25-year-old Lithgow and District Community Nursery was saved from the bushfires by the efforts of the local bushfire brigade. The grant has enabled the nursery to raise plants to be given away to local fire-affected property owners, particularly those in the Clarence/Dargan area.

“The Lithgow Community Nursery is so thrilled and grateful to be the recipient of a $2,000 grant from the Australian Mutuals Foundation,” said Secretary Trudy Magus from the volunteer Management Committee. “Our aim is not only to assist in the revegetation of devastated areas, but to bring a small, green glimmer of hope to those residents as they rebuild their gardens and properties or neighbouring bushland that were affected by fire in that awful summer of 2019-2020. [Grant donors] can be proud to know that they will be putting 400 plants back into the Lithgow district.”

Australian Ecosystems Foundation

The Australian Ecosystems Foundation is a non-profit environmental organisation dedicated to protecting habitats and maintaining natural ecological processes. The land at Creek Sanctuary was heavily impacted by the bushfires, which destroyed low canopy vegetation, a primary food source for endangered species.

The grant will go towards repairing fences and enclosures as well as the revegetation of local Indigenous plants within the sanctuary and other local properties. Funds will also be used for organising and conducting sanctuary tours and creating educational resources, which will bring community involvement and volunteer opportunities.

If you would like to find out more about the AMF, please contact:

Brian Bennett – Manager

Contact: 0418 466 307

59 Buckingham St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

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