South West WA Bushfire Appeal raises $160,000

Stock image.
Stock image.

VICTIMS of the devastating January 2016 bushfires in the South-West have been the beneficiaries of funding for relief services, trauma counselling and community resilience activities after the community raised more than $160,000 for the South West WA Bushfire Appeal.

The appeal was launched by Bendigo Bank and The Salvation Army in the immediate aftermath of the January 2016 bushfires, to help the affected communities’ recovery.

Kick started with around $45,000 in donations from Bendigo Bank’s Community Bank network, including Collie, Halls Head and Pinjarra Community Bank branches, the community’s generosity quickly followed.

Halls Head Community Bank chairman Ian Ilsley thanked everyone who helped raise funds as part of the recovery effort in the wake of the fires.

Local knowledge from relief agencies working to assist those affected has been of great help in identifying areas of need and subsequent resource allocation decisions.

Funding included $35,000 for trauma counselling and community resilience activities through GP Down South, $19,500 to the Cookernup Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade and money to the Salvation Army.

GP Down South spokeswoman Eleanor Britton said the funding provided from Bendigo Bank and the local Rotary clubs – led by Pinjarra Rotary – had provided counselling services in the fire affected areas in the direct aftermath of the fires.

“To date in excess of 120 individual clients have been seen with 441 sessions provided,” she said.

“Two qualified trauma counsellors were engaged in conjunction with our Peel Mobile Health Service to provide counselling.”

Salvation Army financial counsellor Cassandra Armstrong said many people suffered great financial loss as a result of the disaster and were not emotionally equipped to make effective financial decisions – given the level of distress and loss.

“There were many who struggled with filling in insurance forms, applications for claims and many did not know what they were entitled to or how to go about it,” she said.

“Once funds were received, many struggled with how to best use the funds or were caught out with unknown requirements when rebuilding.”

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