Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund (GERF) has given immediate support to those severely affected by the bushfires.
While major organisations such as the Red Cross, St Vincent de Paul and The Salvation Army have come under scrutiny for the drip feed in support payments, GERF late last week had already allocated a whopping $2,179,500 of the $3,993, 395 at its disposal.
Almost 1000 referrals had been dealt with and money immediately deposited into bank accounts, while around a further 50 per day are being taken care of.
“We’ve already distributed 53 per cent of the $3,993,395 we’ve received, we’ve already given that back to the people in need, into their banks,” GERF president, John Mitchell, who has held the role since 1999, said.
“It’s an emergency cash payment to give to people and they can spend that on whatever their immediate priorities are.
“We know from the messages we’ve been receiving the people are very grateful for that emergency cash payment.
“We deal with the referrals as soon as we receive them.”
Mr Mitchell said GERF anticipates that more than $5 million will be required to help people recover and rebuild.
“Based on the 1300 estimate of people directly affected, we need more than $5 million, we think, and each day we’re learning a little more about the properties that have been impacted,” he said.
“Our initial rough estimate, we thought there would be something like 1600 fire impacted. We respond to principal places of residence, so we then estimated 1300 would be impacted where we think we would be receiving applications from people that qualify for our assistance.
“That means they either rent in Mallacoota for example and that’s their principal place of residence, in which case any personal affects and furniture they lost, they would be eligible.
“Or if you own in Mallacoota or a farm near Orbost, you would qualify, but for John Mitchell in Traralgon, if I’ve got a holiday home in Mallacoota and it’s lost, I don’t qualify. If I have a manager or someone in that residence, they would qualify.
“We were anticipating upwards of 300-350 houses destroyed totally or severely impacted and not habitable.”