Bushfire Recovery Committee
The role of the Rotary District 9705 Bushfire Recovery Committee (DBRC) is to assist Rotary clubs to coordinate their responses to bushfire recovery within the boundaries of the district.

There are several other participants in the bushfire recovery effort including government agencies, charity and community organizations, businesses and corporations, and individuals. To maximise the overall effort Rotary should actively explore opportunities for cooperation with such entities. It makes no sense for us to compete. The DBRC stands ready to assist clubs to coordinate responses to maximise benefits for bushfire survivors.
 
Communities and individuals impacted by bushfires will have different needs. A one-size-fits-all approach is therefore unlikely to be effective. Clubs, or clusters of clubs within a local government area, should be in the best position to connect with their communities, assess needs, and plan responses. The DBRC’s role is to assist clubs, not to direct them.
 
The DBFC has been appointed by RAWCS to manage project funds provided to the district under the RABS and RACG programs. Links to program guidelines and application processes are provided on this webpage.
 
 
Committee Chair

 
DBRC Chairman
Phil Armstrong
 
   DBRC Secretary
John Mercer
 
 
 
Rotary Club Links
(Login required)
These links enable Rotary clubs to access District 9705 bushfire recovery policies and procedures and apply to fund club or cluster based project.
A district bushfire recovery project has been registered with
 

Policies and procedures
 

RAWCS, RABS, RACG
 

Apply to fund a project:
Bushfire News Stories

Rotary clubs deliver new pavilion to Kiah community

SHARON KELLEY6 AUGUST 2020
 
The new Kiah Pavilion will be formally opened on Saturday, 8 August. Photo: Supplied.
Bega Valley Shire Council has expressed thanks to the Rotary clubs of Merimbula, Pambula, Bega and Northbridge in Sydney ahead of the formal – COVID-19 safe – opening of the Kiah Pavilion on Saturday, 8 August.
Mayor Sharon Tapscott thanked Rotary for its generosity of funds and hard labour to complete the project in the town of Kiah, south of Eden on the NSW South Coast.
“A round of applause for all involved and, in particular, Merimbula Rotarians Shane Osta and Andy Thorp who spearheaded the project,” she said.
“These guys managed the construction of the pavilion, providing building expertise and hands-on labour to save money and ensure the building was completed as quickly as possible.
“The Kiah Pavilion is located near the tennis courts and RFS [Rural Fire Service] shed, and offers the Kiah community a large undercover meeting space with an electric barbecue, a sink, seating area and landscaping.
“It means the Kiah community will once again be able to gather together for various social, sporting and educational activities, while the Kiah Hall is rebuilt [after being destroyed by bushfire on 4 January, 2020].
From left: Patricia Witton, Merimbula Rotarian; Sue Jellis, Merimbula Rotary Club president; Rickee Marshall, Bega Valley Shire Council; Katrina Berenguer, Bega Valley Shire Council; Shane Osta, Merimbula Rotarian, at Kiah Pavilion. Photo: Supplied.
“Rotary funded this project to the tune of $45,000, which included a large donation from the Rotary Club of Northbridge, in Sydney.
“The project is an incredibly generous gesture and a real credit to Rotary … they just get in there and get things done.”
Merimbula Rotary Club president Sue Jellis said while her club had been instrumental in the construction of the pavilion, the project was a combined effort from Rotary clubs in Merimbula, Pambula and Bega in response to an approach from council and the Kiah community.
“We are so very pleased the pavilion will provide the Kiah community with a place to meet,” she said.
“Community service and friendship underpins the work of Rotary. We are people of action.”
The pavilion’s first event was council’s Cuppa and Chat Session, which drew a number of bushfire-affected residents who enjoyed the chance to catch up with friends and neighbours and tap into the various services and agencies on hand.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rotary  in Action
Rotarians and members of Men's Sheds from Parkes and Forbes have collaborated to make bird nest boxes for fire-affected bushland on the South Coast of NSW. Seventy-five bird boxes were constructed.
 
Rotary Clubs of the Sapphire Coast will install the nest boxes to replace the natural hollows which were destroyed or damaged in the devastating bushfires of 2019-2020.
 
Peter Wiltshire, the ranger in charge of the Darebin Parklands located around 7km from the Melbourne CBD, says that tree hollows capable of supporting even small birds take around 100 years to develop in bushland. Hollows sufficient to accommodate larger bird species and possums take much longer to form. See this ABC Gardening Australia link for more information about the impact of nest boxes in Darebin Parklands: https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/handmade-habitat/12155214
 
What happens when fires rage through bushland and destroy trees and hollows? Ecologist Wendy Hawes explains on a Landline program that intense fires destroy or despoil nesting hollows. Providing nest boxes is one way of replacing essential breeding habitat. See this ABC Landline link for an interview with Wendy Hawes: https://www.abc.net.au/landline/helping-hollows:-creating-homes-for-displaced/12752784
 
Hence members of Parkes Rotary and Parkes Men's Shed made 25 boxes for Crimson Rosellas and 25 boxes for Kingfishers, while Forbes Rotary and Forbes Men's Shed made 25 boxes for Kookaburras. The boxes were made of marine pine.
 
Parkes Rotarian Cliff Cowell organised the construction of the boxes.
Interactors at the Parkes Peace Park
 
Burnt out Service Station in Batlow
 
Interactors at the "Dish" in Parkes
At the end of the NSW school holidays seventeen young people from Batlow visited Parkes and Dubbo. Most were members of Batlow Interact club. They were accompanied by four Rotarians. Interact clubs bring together young people aged 12-18 to develop leadership skills while discovering the power of Service Above Self. Interact clubs help young people to connect with leaders in their community and around the world to:
  • take action to make a difference in their school and community
  • discover new cultures and promote international understanding
  • become a leader in their school and community
  • have fun and make new friends from around the world
The trip to Parkes was initiated by the president of Batlow Interact, Jack Gould. Jack had been trying to organise a weekend trip for club members to little avail until Parkes and some help from Parkes Rotarians made a trip possible. He met Ken Engsmyr, a Rotarian from Parkes and a member of District 9705’s bushfire recovery committee, when Ken and another committee member – John Mercer – visited the Batlow following the fires. Jack saw an excursion as a way for the Batlow group to be together for two days focussed just on enjoying a trip and each other’s company for a while.
The Interactors were all impacted by the summer bushfires that so severely damaged their small town in the South West Slopes region of New South Wales. Seventeen houses were lost along with several outlying properties. One firefighter died of a heart attack while assisting a friend defend his property. The town’s service station burnt down and gas bottles stored there exploded in the heat. Apple orchards and infrastructure were lost. For all that, it has been said that Batlow firefighters defended what seemed indefensible.
  
  
 
Bushfires began impacting in Australia as early as June 2019. Major impacts occurred during “Black Summer”, between December 2019 and January 2020.  During this time some communities have had to cope with drought, flood, and hail as well as bushfires!
For the whole of Australia, 33 lives were lost as a direct result of bushfires (some reports say 34). In addition there were 445 excess deaths from exposure to bushfire smoke. There were also 3340 admissions to hospitals with heart and lung problems and 1373 attendances at emergency departments due to complications with asthma. The cost of health impacts is estimated to be in excess of $2m.
 
More than 3500 homes and 5852 outbuildings were destroyed. At 28 May the value of insurance claims lodged as a result of property loss was $2.26 billion. 18 Million hectares of land has been scorched and 119 animal species left in need of "urgent management intervention".
 
Rotary District 9710 includes the south eastern part of NSW plus Canberra and the ACT. It is believed that within District 9710’s boundaries of nearly 1200 houses were destroyed, nearly half of the total of homes destroyed in the State of NSW.  Breaking that down further:
  • 501 houses were destroyed in Eurobodalla Shire and 274 damaged; 1716 houses in the line of fire were saved.
  • 448 houses were destroyed in Bega Valley Shire that adjoins Eurobodalla and 126 damaged; 1344 houses in the line of fire were saved.
  • Fires burnt 365,000 hectares in Bega Valley Shire, 58% of the Shire’s land mass.
  • Fires burnt 270,000 hectares in Eurobodalla Shire, 79% of the Shire’s land mass.
The source of this information includes media reports – especially coverage of The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements – and the local knowledge of some Rotarians from District 9710.
 
 
Mathilda Stade (Tilly), a former exchange student to Forbes from Germany, approached her father’s Rotary Club, Kuhlungsbourn, and asked them to consider assisting bushfire victims in NSW. They responded with a donation of EURO 2,000 ($AU3224.25).
 
The devastating bushfires last summer burnt out houses, business premised, and vast areas of bushland – native fauna habitat. Amongst the victims, some Rotarians lost homes and businesses.  During 2018 and 2019 Rotary clubs of the South Coast of NSW donated to the Forbes, Parkes, Condobolin, West Wyalong and Lake Cargelligo Rotary Clubs to assist drought victims. Now it’s the turn of Central West Rotarians to lend a hand with bushfire recovery. The donation from the Kuhlungsbourn Rotary Club will be used to assist bushfire affected areas of the NSW South Coast and hinterlands.
 
 
ABC News recently ran an item about PODS being provided as temporary housing for some bushfire victims that lost their houses and will need some time to rebuild. Providing “recovery pods” is a joint initiative of the Minderoo Foundation and the New South Wales Government. $5m has been allocated.
The DBRC is not considering funding PODs because of their high per unit cost ($50,000), but it may be useful for Rotarians involved in bushfire recovery to know about the PODS, where they are being deployed, and how they are being funded.
 
 
 
Minderoo Foundation’s Fire Fund has today announced a significant collaboration with the New South Wales Government to deliver “recovery pods” to people rebuilding after the disastrous bushfire season.
Snapshot of a Fire Fund recovery pod, which offers temporary housing. Photo Credit: Fire Fund Team.
 
Minderoo Foundation CEO Andrew Hagger today joined NSW Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery, John Barilaro, to announce the $5 million program, with funding to be contributed equally.
FUNDRAISERS: Wagga Multicultural Council CEO Belinda Crain with members of Wagga 's Yazidi refugee community Khedder Sharkan and Shab Mahmood
 
MEMBERS of Wagga's refugee community have pitched in to raise funds for a community project in Batlow after a devastating bushfire tore through the small town earlier in the year.