Rotary extends assistance to Aussie farmers A cluster of Rotary clubs in New South Wales join hands to deliver a series of financial aids to farmers in the form of vouchers, prepaid cards and other relief kits to tide over the crisis.

Calala Club Joint President Evrol Keeys, West Tamworth Club President Richard Chaffey, Quirindi Club President Nikki Robertson, Tamworth First Light Club President John Worldon, Cluster 6 Assistant Governor Dimity Betts and District 9650 e-club President John Barwick.
Calala Club Joint President Evrol Keeys, West Tamworth Club President Richard Chaffey, Quirindi Club President Nikki Robertson, Tamworth First Light Club President John Worldon, Cluster 6 Assistant Governor Dimity Betts and District 9650 e-club President John Barwick.

It’s just one volunteer organisation in one small corner of New South Wales (Australia), but Cluster 6 of Rotary District 9650 has recently marked its 610,000th dollar of drought assistance.

The cluster, made up of five Rotary clubs in Tamworth – including in the suburb of Calala, one in Manilla, one in Quirindi and one e-club, has worked with many parties to make sure the help gets where it’s needed, assistant governor Dimity Betts said.

And the “massive project” has been “testament to the work that Rotary does at a grassroots level and the fact it is quite connected with our communities,” she said.

One example of that work was a recent drought forum the Calala group hosted on February 27, funded by the cluster.

Emcee Russell Webb, a regional councillor, joked that with more than 100 people in attendance it was “the biggest meeting that Calala Rotary has ever had”, and revealed the cluster’s efforts had helped 474 families.

Betts said the money to do that had come from “all over Australia”.

Some was from the The 2018 Drought Relief Fund, a partnership with the National Farmers’ Federation and Channel 9; some from the federal government’s Drought Community Support Initiative.

Some of it was from clubs in other areas, such as Toukley on the NSW Central Coast, Concord in inner-western Sydney and Moora in Western Australia; and some from private donors.

And to make sure it helped the people most in need, Rotary called in the help of parties such as rural financial counsellors, rural suppliers, churches, even mechanics.

“We’ve tried to spread our feelers out through the community as much as we can,” Betts said.

“We wanted to try and reach the people who were coming forward asking for help – but also the people who weren’t coming forward and asking for help.”

That help has been mostly in the form of vouchers or prepaid Visa cards – some worth up to $3000.

Rotary Club of Quirindi President Nikki Robertson said that, while the funds were dwindling, the requests for help were ramping up.

“We’re getting lots of people putting hands up and calling to get help, and they’r telling me ‘This is a really hard phone call I didn’t want to make’,” she said.

But she said the clubs were happy to “take the pressure off paying bills and letting people know that there’s somebody here who cares”.

“I got a phone call yesterday telling me that we saved his life, and that’s quite big,” she said.

“(It’s) a band-aid unfortunately, the problem is ongoing… so we’re hoping we’re going to get more funding, because this is not over by a long shot.”

Source: The Northern Daily Leader

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