In response to the devastating bushfires in north eastern Victoria and New South Wales a district 9790 Bushfire Working Group was formed early in the New Year, under the direction of DG Brian Peters.  The aim of the group was to assess and plan what district could do to help the communities impacted, particularly those communities in Corryong and the surrounding Upper Murray region.  The group comprised DG Brian Peters, District Community Service Chair Rosemary Freeman, Rotarians with experience from previous bushfires DGN Anne Reid and PDG Phil Clancy and local Rotarians with expertise in the logistics of providing aid to the community - Geoff Dinning and Murray Jones. The region’s AG Margaret Crisp, who knows the area, the people affected - Corryong Rotary Club is in her group of clubs - is an integral member of the group.  Margaret has connections with local community groups, the Towong Shire and first responder aid agencies.
The initial requests from the affected communities were for hay and dairy stock feed, agistment of livestock and repair/replacement of boundary fences.  The District 9790 Bushfire Recovery Project subsequently developed to respond to these requests to support the communities and Rotary clubs in our district impacted by the disastrous events.
Rotary clubs throughout the district have responded to the above requests and Geoff Dinning is coordinating the receiving and distribution of hay and stock feed.  Lloyd Ohlin and David Earle, Rotarians from the Shepparton region are coordinating stock agistment.
On initial advice from PDG Phil Clancy, BlazeAid were stretched and working in many affected areas of Victoria and New South Wales and were unable to provide a team for the Corryong area at this time.  DGN Anne Reid contacted the Uniting Church Emergency Fencing Team, which had experience working with Rotary in 2009 during the fires in the Murrindindi Shire and they were happy to be part of this district project.   Rotarians will support this team and assist with coordinating the volunteers and logistics for district. 
Local Rotarians have been supporting the aid agencies and volunteering at evacuation centres in Wodonga and Wangaratta, while others are providing meals for the off - duty firefighting teams at locations around the region.
Access to the region has been limited and restricted to the first responders in the initial weeks.  Road closures have occurred frequently, whenever conditions have deteriorated.  Until permission to enter is given, additional assistance to the communities cannot be determined.  District 9790’s involvement will continue for as long as there is a need.  Emotional trauma will be extensive for these fragile communities, so care and support will be varied. We are aware of the need to support local businesses in the affected area where possible, so cash donations are important to begin the restoration of these communities.
An American charity, Direct Relief, will be donating large quantities of P2/N95 face masks to Australia, to provide communities with protection against smoke pollution.  15,000 were secured from the first shipment for our bushfire region and the outlying affected areas. They were transported last week from DIK Footscray to Wangaratta, for distribution to relief workers and community members by Canny’s Transport.
Thank you to all who have responded with cash donations and to those who have volunteered their time and expertise.  Rotary does connect the World.
For further information regarding volunteering please email
For further District 9790 Bushfire Recovery Project details contact:
Rosemary Freeman
DGN Anne Reid