Minderoo Foundation’s Fire Fund is collaborating with volunteer organisation BlazeAid, to scale up its important work and meet demand in the wake of the bushfire crisis. Ten new trailers, equipped with fencing tools and equipment, will soon be making their way to fire-affected farming properties across Australia.
Through on-the-ground consultation, Minderoo Foundation’s Fire Fund* team learnt that repairing damaged fences will be critical as the agricultural sector begins to rebuild. Over 17 million hectares of land has been burnt in the Australian bushfires since September, and BlazeAid estimates that replacing destroyed or damaged fencing, without the support of volunteers, can cost around $10,000 per km.
Minderoo Foundation chief executive Andrew Hagger said it was clear from the Fire Fund team’s time in affected communities there was a simple and practical need for equipment such as fencing trailers.
“As we’ve been working in fire affected communities, we’ve been shocked to see the impact of burnt fences on so many properties,” Mr Hagger said.
“Across the country, over 17 million hectares of land has been burnt and countless kilometres of fencing has been lost. This is a real blow to the agricultural industry and prevents them from securing their properties and getting back to work.
“BlazeAid has a track record of helping farming families and individuals through this type of crisis,” Mr Hagger said.
“They have the people and the networks to make a real difference and our contribution will give them more capacity to answer the call for help.” Mr Hagger said.
Minderoo Foundation has agreed to donate $250,000 from the Fire Fund to BlazeAid to build and equip ten specialist fencing trailers.
BlazeAid, which works with families in regional Australia following natural disasters, was founded by Kevin and Rhonda Butler after the 2009 Black Saturday fires in Victoria.
The trailers will be used by BlazeAid’s travelling volunteers to provide invaluable on-the-ground support when rebuilding the fences. Many BlazeAid volunteers are retired farmers or tradespeople, travelling through regional areas, who find a unique community by joining a BlazeAid “camp” and lending a hand.
Mr Butler said his volunteers were eager and willing to help. The additional trailers were expected to be completed within three weeks and would be put to use right away in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
“We have a fantastic network of volunteers who like nothing more than helping out their mates in need. With these new trailers we will be able to get 10 more crews working,” he said.
The BlazeAid network is currently working across bushfire affected areas in South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.