WA Rotary Relief Newsletter February 2022
Rotarians and Rotary Friends
You have a WA Rotary Relief organisation in place, in perpetuity, borne out of the Wooroloo/Gidgegannup bushfire disaster and formalised for all future disaster relief work; heatwaves, bushfires, droughts, floods, severe storms and tropical cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides.
Rotarians in WA have a deep compassionate history of supporting those in adversity.  In adversity we see the best of the community - they start by doing what's necessary; then they do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
Historically, significant funds have crossed the Nullarbor West to East and again East to West.  Funds have come from Rotarians, Rotary Clubs, Rotary Australia World Community Service (RAWCS), Philanthropists, the Rotary Foundation Disaster Funding and Community groups and concerned and caring individuals. 
WA Rotary Relief is managed professionally within your State of WA and audited financially – progress thus far is as follows:
The remainder for Wooroloo is earmarked for building a fencing trailer for the Gidgegannup Men’s Shed to continue supporting the Community, additional tools identified by Community use of the Tool Library and the myriad of consumables and fencing material still needed.
The focus of Rotary support for Seroja affected families is Mental Health support or possibly back-up Generators.  This is led by the President of the Geraldton Rotary Club, a well-known community leader (support is driven from the local expertise).  This is about collaborating with all agencies and contributing in the most meaningful and comprehensive manner.  It is taking time to bring all the agencies together in a meaningful way – our patience is required here to spend well over such a vast area, so we are hastening slowly.
The SW Fire fund is growing.
Your WA Rotary Relief organisation has two income streams:
  1. RAWCS established the Rotary Australia Benevolent Society (RABS) to assist Rotary Clubs and Rotary Districts within Australia to respond to needs within their own communities and to gain tax deductibility for donations made to their registered project.  RABS is a public benevolent institution (PBI) with full Australian Taxation Office certification.  See https://directory.rawcs.com.au/45-2021-22 , and
  1. There is a District WA Relief Project Account - BSB/Account number 036-310, 477044.  This is for Rotary Clubs, and Philanthropist Foundations, who do not need Tax Deductibility (which attracts compliance costs) to donate directly to those in need where every cent goes to the cause.
Community responses before, during and after a disaster are a valuable resource in disaster and emergency management.  Rotary is not, and never will be, a 1st responder nor 2nd or a 3rd - Rotary is nimble and able to catch any type of assistance that didn’t fall into more formal categories.
The aim of the WA Rotary Relief team is to provide long term support to local residents, farmers and communities directly impacted by the disaster.
The beauty of our organisation is that Rotary Clubs all over our State, Australia and Internationally can quickly join and co-ordinate whatever assistance is needed as a cohesive group.  We collaborate with National, State and Local Governments
Every situation demands unique and locally driven responses – the Wooroloo response provided the following:
Containers ($200K)
Forty-Seven (47) containers were acquired and distributed to needy clients in the fire zone.  40 of these were 20’ containers and 7 were 40’ containers. 
Containers, in cargo-ready condition, have been exceedingly difficult to access over this period and a small number of Economy Containers were also purchased to fill the demand.  All containers delivered were lockable and waterproof.  Many messages of thanks were received from recipients.
A stark reminder of something simple helping so much
Tool Library
The first Tool Library was put in place on Tilden Drive with the second at the Wooroloo Liquor and General Store. These are 14km apart, one at the Gidgegannup end and one at the Wooroloo end of the Fire Scar, to enable those affected to have access to tools over the longer term assisting in the rebuild process.
The Tool Library, we contend, is more than the provision of tooling for work - they are managed by Rotarians, sympathetic and empathetic to those using the facility and part of the healing process with a warm cuppa tea and caring support chat whenever the Tool Library is open for business.
Rotarians providing tools but also solace
A practical application of support
The Fencing operation commenced with support from BlazeAid – that organisation is a volunteer-based organisation that works with families and individuals in rural Australia after natural disasters such as fires and floods.
Rotary’s BlazeAid support commenced as they were setting up at the State Equestrian Centre where the WIFI Pro Bono network was installed and support such as cooking dinners, providing office equipment, and fencing supplies to affected people.
BlazeAid is just one the many organisations setup to deal with this aspect, providing some materials and plenty of volunteers.  While they do magnificent work and as with all large relief organisations, their criteria can sometimes exclude worthy recipients, making a return to normalcy harder.  Rotary was able to ‘fill the gaps’ in this and assist smaller residents who had missed out on any fencing and desperately need it to keep stock fenced in.
BlazeAid have subsequently moved on and the triaging of the needy is continuing with the City of Swan, The Shire of Mundaring, and the Department of Communities and Rotary is still in place to help.  Now creating a fencing support capability in the Community with the Men’s Shed.
Everyone needs a secure fence
Your WA Rotary Relief organisation is in place and ‘doing’.  Operations are driven by local ‘on the ground’ expertise with formal District support and administrative expertise.
In future operations, and indeed the SW Fire situation, locals will be recruited and supported across our State to support local residents, farmers and communities directly impacted by the disaster.
Peter Durrant Chair WA Rotary Relief
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