Delivering the goods to fire-affected regions

Delivering the goods to fire-affected regions

A convoy of more than 45 vehicles made up of members from the Bairnsdale 4WD Club, Victorian Police 4X4 Club and members of other Victorian 4X4 clubs delivered donated goods to East Gippslanders in the Orbost, Omeo, Buchan, Gelantipy and Bruthen areas last weekend.

The goods were loaded from the Bairnsdale donated goods supply centre at Dahlsens on Saturday morning.

Dahlsens’ Mick Mann said over the past three weeks the volume of donated goods would have taken the space of 40 semi trailers.

The Dahlsens temporary distribution centre is set up like a bulk super-market where perishable and non-perishable goods are matched and packed for distribution.

The first distribution of supplies from Dahlsens was on January 1 and coordinated by St Vincent De Paul and Department of Human Services.

Mr Mann said he could not believe the generosity of people and organisations from across the state who have contributed supplies to be distributed to bushfire-affected East Gippslanders.

“The supplies have been delivered in private unmarked 4X4 vehicles by people from all walks of life including serving and retired police officers, medical officers and four wheel drive club enthusiasts,” Mr Mann said.

The weekend deliveries are coordinated by Melissa Ferguson, of Gippsland Fire Relief. There have been two such deliveries and further will be made as the need is communicated with Melissa.

Melissa is a great story herself. She lives in Traralgon and is a Newstart participant (Newstart is a government-funded employment initiative). She has done a spectacular job coordinating the supply chain of goods to fire-affected residents.

Her ability to coordinate and communicate has been recognised by professionals working with her.

Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund (GERF) head, John Mitchell, kick-started Gippsland Fire Relief in 2016 with a $30,000 donation.

Gippsland Fire Relief is a registered charity and a volunteer organisation.

The first four wheel drive convoy after the fires visited 80 farms in East Gippsland, prior to this effort Gippsland Fire Relief had been doing monthly on farm deliveries to drought-affected farmers.

Marcus Nash, of the Victoria Police 4X4 Club, said the first weekend he was involved in the distribution there were some heart-wrenching situations that had touched the hearts and committed drivers to continue to support East Gippslanders.

The first contact some members had with bushfire victims during their first run involved health checks for them as well as delivering food to many who had not had a decent meal since New Year’s Day.

IMAGE: Mick Mann, of Dahlsens Bairnsdale, Melissa Ferguson, of Gippsland Fire Relief, and coordinator of the Victoria Police 4X4 Club, Marcus Nash, outside the Dahlsens bushfire relief distribution centre last Saturday morning. K108-314