President’s Report, October 2013

BlazeAid President’s Report

2 October 2013

 

A thousand acts of kindness are done every day in BlazeAid by hundreds of thoughtful people.
In this report I hope to highlight many of these thoughtful deeds – but the majority will be not be mentioned and I wish there were a better way!
So I apologise to all who miss out on a mention – you are appreciated and I am only human and make more errors than anyone else in the organisation. If I have been remiss please don’t get cross or upset – just get ahead by sending an email to BlazeAid to have your experience or thoughts on record.

 

The success of BlazeAid in Australia since 2009 is simply stunning.
Up to $20 million worth of natural disaster recovery assistance for rural people has been completed.
There have been 10,000 volunteers who have worked 75,000 working days since Black Saturday
Over 2,000 rural and farming families have been assisted.
Several thousand kilometres of fencing has been either cleared, repaired or completely rebuilt after floods and fires.
It is the stuff of legend – The time will come when theses are done to explain why BlazeAid is such a phenomenon. It challenges big institutions such as fire authorities and aid agencies in its amount of work achieved for the community.
Furthermore it’s grass roots that run this organisation at very little or no cost to the taxpayer.
At our peak this year – on any one day – over 300 volunteers were working on over 100 properties over four states in Australia.
Volunteers worked shoulder to shoulder with rural and farming families seven days a week for between three and eight months at each base.
Furthermore, hundreds of business people, local people, community groups and other people – away from the disaster areas – assisted BlazeAid with kind donations of money, tools and posts, providing food and meals, etc.
Wonderful and long lasting friendships have been created out of adversity and have meant a great deal to locals affected by the disasters.

This organisation is the biggest practical hands-on conduit Australia has in bridging the City-Country divide
BlazeAid appears to get bigger every year but we continue to have almost 100% volunteerism, and all donated money continues to represent a one dollar to $100 return.
There is probably no other organisation of its kind in Australia or the world.
More and more people in Australia are getting to know what BlazeAid does and are learning the system which makes it all a lot easier to start up a base camp. The main reason some people have not heard of BlazeAid is because they do not listen to Australia’s national broadcaster the ABC.

 

2013 Basecamps

This year there were 14 bases over four states – from Tasmania, Victoria and NSW with fires, to Queensland with floods – beginning on January 14, 2013 and completing all works on August 19, 2013
3,506 volunteers put in 29,696 volunteer person working days this year alone.
810 Farming and rural properties were helped with the replacing of their destroyed infrastructures. Included were some 1,349 km of flattened fencing or burnt fencing was cleared, and 1,460 km was completely re-built.
These are amazing statistics, especially so because most of the hard work was done by semi skilled retired people and grey nomads with basic tools.
These statistics do not include the thousands of hours put in by volunteers on unmeasurable tasks, including removing and repairing irrigation pipes in the Lockyer Valley, cleaning debris and mud from homes, sheds and fruit trees in Queensland, clearing orchards in Tasmania, etc
They do not include the thousands of people in local communities who support by cooking, cleaning, providing tools and equipment, facilities, bringing gear up to bases etc.

 

Reflections on 2013
Local government has come of age for BlazeAid this year.

Many  Shires and local councils were exemplary in their support of BlazeAid this year. A few are worthy of special mention:
Mayor Deidre Flint at BlazeAid Hamilton, Tasmania was amazing in her support for getting BlazeAid started there and continuing.
Rebecca at the Yass Shire Council for the Bookham fire recovery was outstanding, as were local farmers Malcolm Sam and Doug Painter who were the instigators of getting BlazeAid to Bookham.
The Warrumbungle Shire Council for the Coonabarabran BlazeAid Base camp raised $200,000 for fire recovery through their Mayor’s Fund, and again gave outstanding support to BlazeAid. At the Warrumbungle Shire, the Mayor Peter Shinton, CEO Steven Loane and his PA, Rebecca Ryan were exemplary. They would be an excellent study for community resilience following a natural disaster.
The North Burnett Regional Shire Council in Queensland had Pascal Kellenberg as the Shire officer supporting natural disaster recovery. He set up local BlazeAid committees to help coordinate and facilitate the work. He is the best bureaucrat I have ever worked with because of his practical application and common sense approach
The Rotary Club of Yass were amongst thirty or so groups who helped feed the volunteers at BlazeAid and that community should be saluted for their outstanding commitment to each other as well as initiating the very first BlazeAid Storage facility.

Cr. Kathy Duff at Murgon in Queensland initiated the BlazeAid Base there for the second time. She was a wonderful support to the whole community
At Gin Gin near Bundaberg Cr. Wayne Honour and his wife Judy initiated that base and was a great support.
Dululu in the Banana Shire Council was a struggle to run and concerned me a good deal.
Where individuals on local councils had their heart and soul in recovery it made for a very successful partnership with BlazeAid – Rebecca at Yass Shire, Deirdre Flint at Hamilton, Cheri at Warrumbungle Shire, Pascal at North Burnett Regional Council would be excellent studies of what it takes to facilitate outstanding government community partnerships after natural disasters
The shire at Sorrell deemed that BlazeAid would have no costs imposed upon them in return for their work. Even the football club realigned their football matches to play away from the BlazeAid basecamp at the football ground.

Rebecca White, MP at Sorell and Tim Morris, MP in Hamilton, Tasmania were both wonderful in their support of BlazeAid.

In cases where the local Mayor is involved and takes time to visit the basecamp and acknowledge the volunteers, it’s very good for morale. In some areas this has been very good, while in others, the local mayor was conspicuous in his/her absence.

 

Mapos fence posts
Dave Mapo and Nerida began a fence post drive at Maffra in Gippsland. People were invited to buy a post for a fire affected farmer.  Word spread of the scheme and thousands of posts were ultimately supplied to Farmers by local businesses.

They also coordinated 4WD clubs through 4WD Victoria to collect dozens of trailer loads of old wire and take it to the tip which saved farmers burying it. It was a massive success and I would consider doing it in future basecamps.

 

Outstanding Coordinators
The success of a BlazeAid Base is entirely due to the coordinator there.
Eugene Ross at Sorell base Tas, Brian and Helene Parry at Hamilton Tas, Angus Guild at Maffra/Heyfield, Paul and Val Foreguard at Nimmitabel and later at Junction View, Gary and Colleen Waterson with Col Coleman at Bookham NSW, Laurie Dawson at Coonabarabran, Colleen and Jim at Biggenden, Paul and Alison at Murgon, Vicki Kelly at Mundubbera with Gloria and Paul; Dave and Jan Binskin, Kim, Vicki at Monto; Bob and Ruth at Mulgowie and Brian and Bev at Gin Gin were superb.

Paul and Val as well as Brian and Helene are the first leaders to have run two bases in one year. This is extraordinary service to Australia.
If the reader is in doubt of the commitment, I advise a stint of personal coordination to see what it’s like.
All these Coordinators are volunteers who worked up to 12 hours daily, seven days a week for several months.  Angus Guild at Maffra had 60 volunteers at the door ready to help four days before the official start up date.
Eugene Ross at Sorrell in Tasmania had a similar experience in early January with hundreds joining to volunteer in the early days of January.

I am indebted to Colleen and Gary Waterson who were a wonderful support to the family and friends of Paul Tobin of Nowra who lost his life in a car accident at Bookham shortly after leaving BlazeAid.

The leaders coordinated up to $1 million worth of work for their respective Communities.
I cannot over-emphasise the importance and value of the work done by these amazing, courageous people.
I feel they  should all be recognised for their work through the Australia Day Honours.
The new concept of asking a local community to have or find interim leaders for a few weeks prior to the arrival  of a BlazeAid Coordinator worked very well for the Biggenden, Mundubbera and Gin Gin bases.
Vicki Kelly at Mundubbera – a dairy farmer’s wife – was trained by me in one day and ran that base for three weeks until Gloria and Graham arrived. Vicki continued to assist, doing admin, etc until the end of the camp.  I salute her – a truly amazing woman.

 

Base Coordinator relief and succession
New coordinators  are found at basecamps – no incumbent Coordinator is happy about another BlazeAid Coordinator taking over his or her baby!
The only way I know of finding more good coordinators is to have more basecamps and then people are found.

 

Committee beef up with Eugene Ross, Angus Guild, Laurie Dawson and Helene and Denis Livingstone.
I have been concerned for several years that just myself, wife Rhonda and Lyn Bailey primarily, and Dick Patterson have made most of the major decisions
So at this AGM, I am asking the members attending to consider the above experienced coordinators and original volunteers who have played an enormous role within BlazeAid be welcomed to the committee.
I see teleconferencing on a weekly basis to be the main instrument in communication.

 

The Succession of BlazeAid Leadership
I believe the new committee would be able to continue to run and grow BlazeAid without Rhonda and my commitment should some unfortunate unforeseen circumstance happen.

 

BlazeAid History and Social Media Project
I am very keen on having BlazeAid’s story documented in an interactive social media project beginning in 2014. It would be similar to a blog where individual volunteers, farmers or supporters can edit or put text in at one of many thousands of photos of BlazeAiders working. I would expect that it would be categorised over the 34 BlazeAid bases we have had in Australia since 2009.

 

Bendigo Community Bank Partnership
The Bendigo Community Bank will soon be our main bank, instead of the Commonwealth Bank.

I am hoping that our Partnership with the Bendigo Community Bank may see funding happen for our BlazeAid history via social media blog project.

 

New post wire program
A fundraiser especially for posts and wire was had in the Lockyer Valley, Queensland run by the ABC. This raised about $25,000.
This worked well for the donors who wished to directly support the farmers with materials. Many farmers could not have made use of the services of our BlazeAid volunteers, as they simply couldn’t afford fencing materials. Many of them had been severely affected two years earlier in 2011 floods.

 

Media
ABC is the only large national media network that has a coordinated consistent strategy in supporting communities in disaster recovery over the long term. Local media does a sterling job in helping promote BlazeAid within their region.

 

Local, state and national community group support
Again, Rotary International, Lions Clubs, Australian Scouting Association, Bendigo Bank, TT Lines, Woolworths Cooma, Freemasonry, Salvation Army, CWA, St Vincent de Paul, various local churches and community groups, and a host of other groups supported BlazeAid with money donations, food and cooking, etc

Thousands of individual people donated to BlazeAid this year alone. We are grateful to them for their generosity. Without these donations, we simply could not run our organisation.

 

Macro storage of the year on six sites across three states
We are now a national organisation with about $400,000 worth of tools and equipment. As floods and fires are expected along the eastern seaboard of Australia then it can be expected that suitable geographical locations be organised for the readiness of future recovery efforts.
We now have fully equipped bases at Kilmore East Victoria, Bylands Victoria, Bookham New South Wales, Murgon Queensland, Monto Queensland and Tamworth New South Wales.
All of the equipment is stored in enclosed and lockable trailers in locked premises ready to be transported to a new base in 2014.

 

Mobile Kitchens
BlazeAid now has a need for well equipped modern mobile kitchens in every State on the eastern seaboard.
This is because at times we need to give back to the community the hall or sports ground so that functions like football matches or shows may continue as booked in prior to the natural disaster.

 

The Absolute Essentials of BlazeAid
At this stage BlazeAid could not possibly continue as anywhere near successful as it is without the following :
My wife Rhonda for her unyielding support, patience devotion and help to me – the countless phone calls she witnesses me taking, handling the mail and other paperwork, and the numerous meals and cups of tea she makes for hundreds of BlazeAiders.
Lyn Bailey in admin/office for her extraordinary high level passion and commitment with the communication, technologies and computer programs which facilitate the setting up and running of each base, and her ongoing support to base Coordinators.
Ian McNamara and Lee Kelly of the ABC’s Australia All Over  who support volunteerism on a weekly basis for BlazeAid. Ian is Patron of BlazeAid and has once again put in a sterling effort for us.

Ian Mannix the chair of ABC local radio throughout Australia who alerts local ABC radio of forthcoming BlazeAid bases, and provides advice.
Helene and Denis Livingstone – for personalising over one thousand thank you cards, maintaining the receipts system and more.
Peter Appleton our Treasurer who has had a massive accounting task with the donations and with the payments and MYOB records across 14 basecamps this year.
Jon Faine of ABC774 Mornings Program for his ongoing willingness to promote BlazeAid whenever we need it.

Michelle at MiBase who designed our website, and donates her time for technical updates. In January this year, Michelle upgraded our site’s capacity. Since then, we’ve had over 260,000 visits to our website. It remains our primary means of providing information (along with Facebook).
Media Mary for her consistent autonomy and passion on radio.
At present BlazeAid would be in serious difficulty if any of the above individuals withdrew their support.

 

Safety record
Our safety record is an amazing feat of accomplishment as the number of injuries to our volunteers – on the most dangerous of workplaces being farms – is very small.
The reason for such a success can be attributed to the Morning Muster Toolbox Safety Talk, the supervision of volunteers and the maintenance of equipment. I am very grateful to WorkSafe Inspector Wayne Skinner for his practical advice on a monthly basis. We need to keep our safety protocols going, including the Toolbox safety talk, Supervision of volunteers through buddy system, Maintenance of equipment, Recording of incidents.
Wayne has been invaluable with his advice and I and BlazeAid are deeply grateful to him.

 

Juggling the Job – Dependence on People
BlazeAid bases are mostly organised by myself with an iphone 5 plus Blue Tooth earpiece while driving my truck. This takes about five – seven hours a day, especially when basecamps are in their early stages. There are often 50 phone calls per day sometimes three calls in one minute.
I am very dependent on good community minded people such as farm leaders and Regional and Shire Council mayors to give me reliable and accurate information about the amount of damage sustained by fires or floods before considering starting up a new base in their area. There are some requirements to establish a basecamp, but they are not onerous. Interestingly one shire enquired about assistance, but withdrew when they knew they would have to help find a basecamp site, local community support for meals and provide $5000 towards running costs.
Then once okayed, there must be a four way community engagement for a BlazeAid Base to begin – Shire support, Rotary and Lions support, Farmer and local community support,  and local, state and national media support.
Once these planets and stars are aligned I then find a trained and experienced coordinator to run the base. It is not always perfect but the system results in amazing community resilience, commitment, unity and outcomes.

 

Helene and Dennis Livingstone – Thank you cards
For every donation made to BlazeAid, whether monetary or in kind, the donor receives a hand written thank you card from BlazeAid outlining how the money will be spent on tools etc and expressing gratitude for the kind gesture.
Hundreds and hundreds of hours have been put in by Helene and Dennis – their work is amazing, wonderful, appreciated and exemplary.
People who cannot physically help with the disaster recovery often wish to feel appreciated with a kind donation. Dennis and Helene are quite the glue which keeps BlazeAid together in many ways. I cannot thank them enough for their work and friendship.

 

Tax Deductibility and FRRR
Although Dick Patterson our secretary has worked diligently for our organisation trying to obtain DGR status, it was not forthcoming at the announcement of the election back in July.
In the interim, FRRR has provided Tax deductible receipts for those wishing to receive them. We are highly appreciative and grateful to Ms Alex Gartman, CEO of FRRR and her Executive Assistant, Leeanne Dell, as the interim tax deductibility status has meant an extra $100,000 plus to our coffers.
With the change of government, BlazeAid now needs to reapply for DGR status once again. We will be writing to PM Tony Abbott, and Warren Truss MP.  We would be very grateful should any individual or politician help us get over the line with Treasury on this topic.

Life would be far easier if BlazeAid had independent DGR  status.

 

Rob Mitchell’s office and Gareth Jones’ help
A big thank you to Gareth Jones and Rob Mitchell’s office in Wallan who helped us put the application for DGR status together.

 

Local business input

Many local businesses support the recovery effort in monumental ways by supplying materials at cost – e.g. Valley Steel Fencing, Gatton.
Ken Vincent, the local mayor at Sorrell, as well as other businesses at Hamilton also supplied posts and wire at cost. They did this for months.
Other businesses like stock and station agents and banks offered their employees a day or two of paid volunteering.

 

Word of Mouth

Most BlazeAid bases begin by word of mouth – a friend of a friend has heard of BlazeAid and what it can do for a community and so a phone call is made. Local Shire Councils are always in the best position to make decisions and call in help but very few do this – the exceptions being Cr. Cathy Duff of Murgon Queensland and Mayor Deirdre Flint of Central Highlands Shire, Hamilton Tasmania
A case in point is Gordon Van der Est, a flood affected farmer himself in the Lockyer Valley near Brisbane who successfully got BlazeAid there to Mulgowie and Junction View. His skill, persistence and passion is of the highest order. I would recommend him for citizen of the year.

 

Sundry activities – Difficulty in Measurability
Numerous disaster recovery activities apart from fencing have been done over the years: Removing burnt cherry orchard netting in Tasmania, rebuilding burnt bridges at Flowerdale Victoria, removing flooded carpets at Charlton Victoria, rebuilding flood damaged cattle yards at Carnarvon Western Australia, cleaning mud off walls, rebuilding flooded tractors, pumps and windmills, stacking bales of hay, cleaning orange and other citrus trees at Mundubbera, removing sticks and debris out of trees at Monto, repairing pipes and irrigation at Mulgowie, are just a few of the many other disaster-affected rebuilding BlazeAid volunteers do.

 

Public Speaking Engagements
Thank you to the many, many volunteers who do public speaking engagements with local groups such as Rotary, Lions, CWA and Probus.
Just a handful of people such as Gary and Colleen Waterson , Lyn Bailey, Helene and Dennis Livingstone, Paul Crompton and Dick Patterson have successfully raised tens of thousands of dollars for BlazeAid in this way. Paul Crompton has created a terrific DVD during the time he was at Maffra this year, which can be used to illustrate our work.

 

Importance of iPhones with email, SMS, Twitter, Google accessibility
One of our biggest challenges when beginning a new base is to have telephone and internet access established quickly. A mobile phone tower such as the one Telstra countrywide put in for us at Dunkeld Queensland would be ideal.

Telstra Countrywide provided phones at a number of our camps and a generous donation for communications in Queensland.
We are very anxious to have a partnership with Telstra in this way so we can commence rebuilding after a natural disaster quickly.

 

Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show
I am grateful to Dick Patterson for the coordination of BlazeAid’s involvement in the Australian Sheep and Wool Show at Bendigo in July.
Lyn Bailey arranged for the volunteers to attend, while Brian and Helene Parry did a magnificent job of coordinating 10 volunteers over 10 days to help the organisers run the show.

The Australian Sheep and Wool Show committee have sung the praises of Brian’s volunteers on numerous occasions. I am hoping we can support this wonderful show each year. The success of the 12 BlazeAid volunteers at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show lead by Brian and Helene has meant that we will most likely be asked again, which I endorse. Thank you, Brian and Helene and all the volunteers, for placing BlazeAid in such high regard.
Over $10,000 was raised this year for BlazeAid from sales of fleeces donated by participating farmers. We will also be receiving proceeds from the sale of fleeces at this year’s Royal Melbourne Show.

 

Government support for BlazeAid
BlazeAid receives no government support but we do appreciate our elected leaders supporting BlazeAid.
The Governor General Quentin Bryce visited the Coonabarabran base in March.
The Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard visited the Maffra Base.
It appears that almost every base in Australia was visited by the incumbent Premier of that state or the governor general of that state.
This was wonderful encouragement and was highly appreciated by all the volunteers and the farmers to not feel forgotten. The volunteers appreciate a simple thank you for helping.
The New South Wales farmers Federation and New South Wales rural  Fire Brigade’s were also involved in the disaster recovery.
The Victorian State government did not make contact with BlazeAid this year or in the previous three years, nor did the Victorian Farmers Federation (not since Andrew Broad was President).

 

The Thyne Reid Foundation Grant for Lyn Bailey – Office and Administration
Personally, this very generous grant over two years to partially fund Lyn Bailey’s work was the greatest accomplishment of 2013.
I was always very conscious and concerned that we were to ultimately lose the services of Lyn because as she is a relatively young woman she would need to go off and make an income of her own. This did happen for several weeks in 2012 which caused me great anxiety.
It is such a wonderful relief knowing that BlazeAid has not only secured the services of a woman who is most passionate about BlazeAid, but who also devised the many computer programs which has ensured its seamless success.

 

The Volunteers Maketh the Organisation
The volunteers who work with the farmers are by far our greatest asset. Their sense of humour, their passion, their commitment, their diligence, their insistence on making the camp a better place before they leave it is the stuff that makes BlazeAid so successful. The average stay of a volunteer has increased from six days in 2009 to 10 days today. This is amazing.

 

Vehicle Strategy
It is far better, pragmatic and cheaper for BlazeAid to borrow or hire a four wheel drive vehicle from the local community then own one.
We pay the pro rata insurance, registration, fuel, oil, servicing and detailing at completion.

 

On a personal note

BlazeAid taking several hours a day, as well as running two full time businesses presents its difficulties.
If it is to be sustainable, then continued, independent, autonomous leadership by our Coordinators and active committee members, Rotary and Lions Clubs, CWA, 4WD clubs, the Mapos and Vicki Kelly’s and Gary’s and Colleen’s who make independent decisions based on common sense is vital.
The alternative is to have a paid organisation funded by government which would lead to its demise.

 

Funding
The Committee is always concerned about future funding but every year so far we have had a positive cash flow situation for the following year of disaster relief.
This year we have again achieved a surplus. We were very fortunate this year with the Coonabarabran and Sorell basecamp funding. Also, the Rotary Club of Fortitude Valley (on a suggestion from long-term volunteer and Rotarian, Jim Turnbull, to his Gympie Rotary Club) made a generous donation for Queensland, which significantly contributed to the operating costs in Queensland.

We are deeply indebted to good people doing outstanding work and others donating to us so that we can receive donations. The values and ideals that have made us so endeared by the Australian community must continue.

 

Autonomy

It is good for other groups to ride on the back of BlazeAid but keep their autonomy – they join in and get results. Rotary, Freemasonry four-wheel-drive club and schools do this very well.

 

Peter Appleton, Treasurer

Peter has handled a huge number of transactions and donations. This year, we’ve gone from 6 bases to 14. We are all so appreciative of Peter for his massive input into BlazeAid
He has been exemplary in his commitment and passion for keeping the money flowing and we will be forever grateful to him.
He has been a pleasure to work with we thank him and his wife Judy for their influence on BlazeAid. Thank you, Peter.

 

Lyn Bailey, Admin

Thanks to Lyn for helping run the website, set up the computer systems for new bases, answer hundreds of emails, do public speaking engagements, and all that it takes to run BlazeAid. Thank you Lyn

 

Eugene Ross – Asset Register and Stocktake
A complete inventory and stock take have been done. Eugene has spent weeks on this has done a fully comprehensive stock take which is easy to follow.
We now know where every piece equipment  is located in Australia so thank you ever so much, Eugene, for a sterling job.

 

Dick Patterson – Trailers
Dick oversaw the purchase and completion of 16 Europe trailers this year. These have been a wonderful addition to our armoury of supplies.
Dick handled the public speaking engagements at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show as well as the highlighting of BlazeAid’s statistics on every fleece at the show at Bendigo in July. This action resulted in even more donations of places to BlazeAid. Thank you Dick

 

Other Volunteers at Kilmore East

Ian and Kay Campbell of Berri SA help with tools / kitchen setting up at new base camps again and again.
Thank you Kay and Ian for such wonderful work and support. You are highly appreciated.
Volunteers at Kilmore East
From time to time we have had the wonderful help of some volunteers who willingly help out at Kilmore East to prepare equipment for BlazeAid Base camps
Peter Fraser and Brian Effie stacked numerous trailers to be sent on to Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland in the early months.
Peter Fraser has been working diligently at setting up shelving in the Murrindindi trailer over the last four weeks.

Ivan and his wife, Calvin from Manangatang and Dianne, and Helene and Brian helped me by farm-sitting so that Rhonda and I could take the journey to Queensland to visit bases in June 2013.
These people have been a godsend to Rhonda and I because without them we could not have got through. Thank you

 

Fundraisers
Ben Cross has been riding around Australia for BlazeAid. He has raised more than $2000. Thank you for a great effort.

Sing Australia held a fundraising concert in Ballarat.

BlazeAid volunteers Pauline and Rod held a Christmas in July fundraiser.
ABC fundraiser organised by Ian Mannix in April gave good returns. Thank you to Ian Mannix who got this off the ground, as well as all the participating ABC local radio stations.

Employees of Emerald Grain will be fundraising for BlazeAid in this year’s Melbourne Marathon.

 

Laurie Dawson’s farewell speech Coonabarabran
I encourage people to read Laurie Dawson’s farewell speech. It encompasses what BlazeAid is truly about. Thank you, Laurie, for putting this all together so well and for running brilliant bases.

 

Sunrise Beyond BlazeAid

BlazeAid is looking for a partnership/team effort with Beyond Blue in view of a recent rural suicide in WA where we had a basecamp in 2012.

The format might be for a high profile and respected speaker to attend our regular Saturday night Farmers’ BBQs at the basecamps.

I would be very keen to get the conversation underway here as BlazeAid is at the forefront where natural disasters often align with personal disasters on a rural family.
Finally – Regrets, I have a few
Not visiting bases – I would dearly love to visit each Base on a fortnightly basis to just stand up and tell everyone at dinner how important they are and how grateful all of us at BlazeAid feel about their volunteerism.
Not being able to find common ground with a Queensland Hall committee where we were charged a significant rent for the use of their hall over three months. I anguished about how donated monies were going to the unintended place, instead of flood stricken farmers. I was so hurt and disappointed that a local committee would take the money from the intended farmers.

 

Spirit of Tasmania
We are very grateful to the Tasmanian government who provided free freight for all the BlazeAid gear across and back. Through the Spirit of Tasmania, we were able to transport our trailers and fencing tools and equipment within a matter of days, which helped us have both camps in Tasmania up and running within only ten day of the original enquiries for help.

 

Finally thank you to all the people who have made BlazeAid such a brilliant success. The wonderful newspaper and other media coverage throughout Australia with consistent articles has been noted and appreciated. Special thanks also to all those politicians who mentioned BlazeAid’s work in parliament and especially to the politicians in Tasmania who actively worked with BlazeAid. May we keep on thanking you.

 

Kevin Butler
President
October 2, 2013
Kilmore East, Victoria


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