Blazeaid seeks volunteers in Heyfield

Blazeaid Gippsland coordinator Graeme Allen is hoping to hear from volunteers to help restore fences that have been affected during recent flooding and storms in Gippsland. Photo: Liz Bell

Liz Bell

Volunteer group Blazeaid is seeking coordinators and volunteers to help them rebuild fences and other structures damaged during recent storms and floods.

The volunteer-based organisation works with families and individuals in rural Australia after natural disasters such as fires and floods.

The group has set up bases in Heyfield and Yinnar, and has put out the welcome mat for volunteers who are welcome to set up camp and enjoy three free meals a day, great company and a sense of camaraderie.

Gippsland coordinator Graeme Allen said the group’s aim was to rebuild fences and other structures to give farmers a “clear a path to move forward”.

Mr Allen, who is coordinating the Heyfield group, said the organisation’s experience with previous disasters had shown that disasters such as fires and floods often left landholders overwhelmed.

“I remember one farmer saying he looked at the mess left of his property and just had no idea where to make a start — it was just too overwhelming,” he said.

“We repaired his fences and that was one less thing he had to worry about, it enabled him to focus on getting the other jobs done.”

Mr Allen said there were already 20 properties in the region he knew about that needed fences rebuilt, but he expected that list to grow as word got out.

“What we need now is to build up our volunteer base, and we think the Gippsland community will show their support for the farming community and join us,” he said.

There is no set requirement for volunteers, other than to be able and willing to help.
“You don’t have to be the fittest or youngest,” he said.

“We have one man in his 80s who wants to help — it’s not just about hard labour, there are always things to do,” he said.

“If you have a day or two, week or anytime at all to spare, we would be so grateful to have you.

“No experience necessary.”

The charity is in the early stages of organising the Gippsland project, and expects to be operational for seven days a week “for a few months at least”.

Meals, transport and equipment will be provided, and volunteers work in teams to meet up with affected farming families needing help.

They can take their own vans and tents to camp, and enjoy the social aspect of sharing a meal at the end of the day.

For more information, phone Mr Allen on 0477 488 434, or email
Farmers who need help must supply all the fencing materials, while Blazeaid supplies the labour.

People can also follow BlazeAid on Facebook.