The following article was provided by Terry Williams.
“..not just rebuilding fences, but helping rebuild lives..”
Blazeaid commenced by Kevin Butler (a farmer near Kinglake) after the Black Saturday bushfires. He had a vision to help the local farmers with immediate voluntary assistance and it has grown exponentially to respond to any natural disaster Australia wide. Not unlike some Rotary programs.
Last night I attended the Rotary Club of Berwick to hear the presentation on Blazeaid. As we have been advised previously the RC Berwick has fundraised to purchase a trailer and equipment to be used in the EAST Gippsland bushfire recovery.
The Club has successfully raised funds to purchase not 1 but 2 trailers. Each trailer is constructed by a company in Ballarat – who have had to increase production to cover demand- at a cost of $7,000. The equipment is supplied by a firm in South Australia and is very extensive (cost $17,000). Trailer and equipment are united in Lexton where they are assembled into identical units. Any team should be able to take any trailer and find the same equipment in the same place.
Camps are setup in affected areas- we have seen them active at Bunyip- to provide voluntary assistance initially to help cleanup fence-lines and other debris. The immediate need is to retain whatever stock has survived by constructing boundary fences similar to what existed prior to the fire.
There are already camps at Bruthen and Corryong. Bruthen has a full complement of volunteers (50) and two trailers. Accommodation (as the name suggests) is by camping- in tents, swags, caravans, pavilions etc. Meals are provided also by volunteer organisations.
Briefing sessions are conducted after breakfast every morning and ideally teams of 6 are assigned a property. Property owners need to register and be present whilst the volunteers are working. Owners also need to acquire all necessary materials and assure the coordinator that everything is ready to commence before volunteers are assigned.
It is a very well regarded organisation and run on strict guidelines. (experience!) Anyone can register as a volunteer and contact a camp coordinator for placement. It is dirty and exhausting work but very rewarding.
The vastness of the east Gippsland fires means that a lot of camps and volunteers are needed and it will be ongoing for an extended time.
Terry W