GERF bushfire appeal closes at $10.4 million

Cher Jimenez

GIPPSLAND Emergency Relief Fund has announced the end of its bushfire appeal after raising a record $10.4 million.

“This is by far the biggest response we’ve ever seen to a GERF appeal,” GERF president John Mitchell said.

Mr Mitchell thanked everyone including those from overseas who responded to the appeal following the bushfires that ravaged East Gippsland during the festive period

“The 2020 GERF appeal has received outstanding support within the region, all states and indeed from many countries from around the globe,” he told The Express.

“We’d like to sincerely thank all of the businesses, ethnic and community groups, organisations, families and individuals who have so generously given their time, money and extraordinary support to help our East Gippsland communities in their time of need.”

He said a decision to end the appeal was made after confirmation that property impact assessments had been completed by the East Gippsland Shire Council.

“This means that GERF can now proceed to disperse the remaining funds,” Mr Mitchell said.

Of the $10.4 million raised, close to $9 million has been distributed to more than 2060 families or residents of East Gippsland.

Mr Mitchell said at least $1 million had also been allocated for fencing and fodder support to impacted farmers in the area.

He said GERF would continue to distribute the remaining funds in the coming weeks and expressed confidence that everyone who had been impacted by the bushfires and referred to them had been supported.

“We’re confident that all affected residents who have been referred for GERF support and met the criteria have received emergency financial assistance,” Mr Mitchell said.

He said the huge response to the appeal enabled GERF to make supplementary payments of $17,500 to people whose principal place of residence was totally damaged during the bushfire.