$0

distributed to people impacted by the bushfires in NSW by end of June 2020.

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people assisted by the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW with relief and recovery from the 2019/20 bushfires.

$0

max amount of fast cash payments provided by the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW.

CLICK HERE to view full report

The Society was one of the first charities on the ground in bushfire-affected areas in late 2019, largely thanks to our unrivalled network of local volunteer members.

We ensured that financial relief and essential items were distributed without delay. We also provided a service that is harder to quantify, yet hugely powerful: the comfort of a listening ear, a shoulder to lean on, a cup of tea and the occasional hug.

Funds raised in NSW via the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal have been incredibly important in supporting people and communities impacted by the Black Summer bushfires. By the end of June 2020, we had distributed $5.6 million to people impacted by the bushfires in NSW. In addition, $1.2 million was committed for distribution under the upcoming Community Grants program which will help communities rebuild, focusing on projects with community-wide benefit.

We have also worked in partnership with the Commonwealth Government to support people in designated bushfire-affected postcodes, with just over $2.6 million in government Emergency Relief Fund payments distributed by the Society in NSW to end June 2020.

As we move from immediate disaster relief into the recovery and rebuilding phase, funds will be used to help individuals deal with the long-term impact of the fires. These funds will be used to help communities rebuild, focusing on projects with community-wide benefit such as restoring community halls and other shared facilities.

Read more about our bushfire response work in the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal report to July 2020.

WE ASSISTED 4,285 PEOPLE WITH RELIEF AND RECOVERY FROM THE 2019-20 BUSHFIRES. WE PROVIDED:

  • Food, clothing, essential items and grocery vouchers
  • Fast cash payments of up to $3,000
  • Help to pay unexpected bills
  • Referrals to specialist services and crisis accommodation
  • Emotional support and practical assistance
  • Ongoing community development and recovery programs

FIRES SPARKED RACE-DAY PANIC

St Vincent de Paul Society NSW social worker Sarah Mason with Stephen and Helen Lynch and the vehicle donated to them by a local Society benefactor.

The mid-north coast town of Kempsey hosts the famous Akubra hat factory and the firm was proud to be sponsoring the highlight of the local racing calendar, the annual Kempsey Cup.

On 8 November 2019, thousands were enjoying the fine weather and lead-up events, with ‘fashions in the field’ attracting hundreds of entrants. Suddenly, as the mounts were being readied for the big race, the sky darkened and the course was enveloped in smoke and ash from bushfires that erupted west and south of the town.

In attendance were Stephen and Helen Lynch who had moved up from Sydney in retirement, eight years earlier, after “falling in love with the Macleay Valley” during camping trips. They bought a 126-acre property near Bellbrook, a timbered, hilly area west of Kempsey, and built a two-storey house, settling down with a ‘family’ of animals, including poultry and rescue dogs and cats.

“Embers began falling on the crowd, and horses and jockeys were struggling to breathe,” Helen recalls. “It was terrifying.”

The race meeting was cancelled and life changed for many rural residents and businesses throughout the Shire.

The Lynches rushed back home in a small car to collect a few possessions, including their rescue goat. They released the ducks and chickens but couldn’t find the cats and dogs. All would vanish except for a cat named Wombat that survived for nearly three weeks until they could return again.

“Our beautiful home was completely destroyed,” Stephen says, “but as we stood there in shock we heard a meowing and Wombat appeared. He was the only survivor apart from us, and I reckon we were lucky to have been away at the races.”

Since then, the Lynches have returned to their land and are living in one of the ‘pods’ donated to many North Coast people left homeless by Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forest’s Minderoo Foundation. They intend to rebuild, but the process will be slow.

The Society has been helping the Lynches and other locals with bushfire relief and recovery. Hearing their story, an anonymous benefactor gave the Society a 4WD vehicle to pass on to them.

“Vinnies has been excellent,” Helen said, “we’re very grateful for the help you’ve provided. A big ‘thank you’ from us and many others in the area.”

The remains of Stephen and Helen Lynch’s home, destroyed in the bushfires of 8 November 2019.

“VINNIES HAS BEEN EXCELLENT. WE’RE VERY GRATEFUL FOR THE HELP YOU’VE PROVIDED. A BIG ‘THANK YOU’ FROM US AND MANY OTHERS IN THE AREA.” – HELEN

MORE STORIES

BUSHFIRE SUPPORTERS

Companies

7-Eleven, Amazon, Audika and Demant Group, Australian Chamber of Commerce Mongolia, Australian Hotels Association NSW , Betts Shoes, Beyond Bank Australia Foundation Ltd, Beyond the Bricks Campaign – Ray White and Industry Appeal, Brother International (Aust) Pty Ltd, CAF America, Carnival Australia, Caroma Industries Limited, COS , DHL Express, Far East Land Australia, Freyssinet Australia, Gelatissimo, Genworth Australia, Grant Thornton, Hoselink (Hose-Pro Int), IGA Supermarkets, IMB Foundation, Investa, Jellinbah Group Pty Ltd, Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, Lagardere Travel Retail, Lion, Little Company Of Mary Health Care Ltd, Liverpool Catholic Club, Marubeni Corporation, Meriton Properties Services Pty Limited, Mizuho Bank, Ltd. Sydney Branch, Mosaic Brands Ltd, Ollies Place, Oxford Properties Management, Paypal, PGIM (Prudential Global Investment Management), PwC, Reckitt Benckiser (Australia) Pty Ltd, Roche Group, SAGE Group, Spell & The Gypsy Collective, St John of God Health Care, St Vincent’s Health Australia (SVHA), Stand Up and the Jewish Board of Deputies, Suncorp Group, The Fullerton Hotel Sydney, Thrive Market, Together Rising, TVSN, Direct Group, Hooper Shaw Foundation and Rotherleigh Properties, Westpac Group, Workplace Giving and Company Matched Giving through The Australian and UK Online Giving Foundations

Trusts & Foundations & Major Gifts

Australian Mutuals Foundation, Little Company of Mary Health Care Ltd, Mr Christopher Hemsworth, The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem Australia Foundation, The Paul Ramsay Foundation, Wonderland International

Community Groups

GlobalGiving, Australian Sikh Association, Confucius Mencias Society, Ink Vibe Tattoo Studios, Miranda Hotel