Minderoo Foundation’s Fire Fund is supporting the ‘WA Fencing Farmers’ to get West Australian volunteers to Kangaroo Island to assist with bushfire rebuild efforts.
The first wave of farming volunteers travelled by convoy from Norseman over the weekend and arrived on the island late yesterday.
WA Fencing Farmers is a grass roots group of volunteers, including couples, retired farmers and allied industry workers, who responded to a call-out led by rural businessman Paul Brown and Darkan farmer Sam Burgess.
In a matter of weeks, the pair generated interest from more than 60 people willing to donate their time and their labour to travel to the island and spend time on the ground as part of the rebuild effort.
WA Fencing Farmers have joined with BlazeAid teams already on the ground in Kangaroo Island. BlazeAid is a volunteer organisation which has crews working across Australia’s fire affected areas, to replace and repair damaged fencing. WA Fencing Farmers has also assembled donated fencing equipment, tools and other supplies.
Minderoo Foundation’s Fire Fund is pleased to be working with WA Fencing Farmers to fund the cost of travel, including ferry tickets, to transport the teams and their gear. The first group of 36 people, 13 vehicles and two vans were hosted by local councils in Norseman and Kimba along the way.
A second group of about 30 people will depart WA in two weeks’ time.
Minderoo Foundation CEO Andrew Hagger said the volunteers were self-starters, ready and willing to make the journey but needing some financial assistance to get there.
“This is really about farmers wanting to help farmers. They are a fantastic group of volunteers with the skills to help in a difficult situation,” Mr Hagger said.
“Our Fire Fund contribution will provide extra support to get them over to the island, where we know their fellow farmers will be more than happy for their support.
“Replacement fencing continues to be a key issue for fire-affected communities, so this has been a focus area for our Fire Fund,” Mr Hagger said.
Mr Brown said he and Mr Burgess had been overwhelmed with the response and offers of help. Some small WA towns, such as Augusta, had also held fundraising events to help with costs.
“Our volunteers are coming from everywhere, we’ve got people from Northampton, the Wheatbelt, Busselton and all the way down to Esperance,” he said.
“With the two days travel either way, we’ll be spending 10 days on the island doing whatever needs to be done. We can fence, build sheds or yards. We’ve got blokes who can weld – we’ll make cups of tea if that’s what they need.”
The WA Fencing Farmers contribution from Fire Fund comes after Minderoo Foundation supported BlazeAid to fund ten new specialist fencing trailers. Fire Fund has also supported NSW organisation BackTrack with its fencing repair work in the Nymboida area.