GERF plea for local fire victims

GIPPSLAND Emergency Relief Fund has issued a plea for people to help raise money to support people affected by the east Gippsland fires.

The fund has distributed $160,000 to Gippslanders affected by fires this year, but has only raised $60,000 from its current appeal.

GERF deputy president Doug Caulfield said the fund needed to meet this shortfall.

“We are relying on the generosity of our citizens throughout the region,” he said.

Mr Caulfield said the east Gippsland fires were still continuing and the level of property destruction and loss was enormous, so donations were vital.

“These people need immediate help,” he added.

Since February this year, GERF has given much needed money to people affected by fires in Jack River, east Gippsland, Westbury and Driffield.

The organisation provides relief and assistance to people living in the municipalities of East Gippsland, Wellington, Latrobe, Bass Coast South Gippsland and Baw Baw who suffer injury, loss or damage from natural disasters.

Its current appeal was only launched last month, but with so many fires across the region and people affected as a consequence, the need for help is enormous.

Mr Caulfield urged individuals and organisations to donate generously because there were still many desperate people.

“People have been affected by loss of property, farms, homes, livestock, shedding and fencing,” be said.

“Fortunately, there has been no loss of life, but many people remain in desperate circumstances.

“GERF focuses on helping to meet people’s immediate needs for food, clothing, utensils, furniture, bedding and fencing rather than capital items which may be covered by insurance or government aid.

“We are anticipating more requests for assistance over the coming weeks.”

GERF was established in 1978 as a registered charitable organisation which means all donations are tax deductible.

All donations are returned to the Gippsland community with no costs deducted for administration.

In the past 15 years, GERF has raised and disbursed more than $5 million.

“I call on all Gippslanders and the wider community to help, either by making a direct cash donation or running a fundraising event,” Mr Caulfield said.

“This support is vital to our ability to help Gippslanders in their time of need.”