Vinnies Bushfire Appeal: How we're helping

31 January Update

Vinnies has distributed over $3.1 million in financial relief payments so far for those impacted by the fires in NSW, QLD, VIC, SA and the ACT. We continue to distribute more and more money each day and will continue until every dollar is distributed, and beyond. In addition, our volunteer members have given out countless hampers of food, water, clothing, toiletries, bedding, and other essential items provided from our local Conferences and Vinnies Shops.

We are also ensuring government funds get to people right now – nationally we have distributed $776,600 in Commonwealth Government Emergency Relief Fund grants to close to 800 households.

If you have been affected by bushfires, please call 13 18 12 for assistance.

Stories from our volunteers

John – Canberra/Goulburn

Between manning the Disaster Recovery Centre in Batemans Bay and training volunteers in Tumut, Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn President John Feint and his team of dedicated volunteers have been making an impact.

“Over the last few days, it’s been a matter of helping people through their immediate difficulties. We tackle things that are most pressing for people right now and deal with those so that their anxiety levels reduce,” John said.

On one day alone, John (who is an unpaid volunteer) and his team distributed just over $106,000 in funds to people suffering due to the bushfires.

“We hope that through our work we ease the path for people and that they know that Vinnies is there to help them at any time during that process to provide material as well emotional support for people, help with financial packages and whatever they need to help them along their way.”

Glynis - Queensland

When Glynis and her husband Ray’s small cattle farm near Esk was hit by not one but two separate bushfires late last year, their home was fortunately spared. Yet they didn’t get away unscathed: Ray lost his sawmill, tools and everything he needed for his small woodturning business, and the couple lost a number of their livestock and all their fencing.

“It was just black smoke right across – you couldn’t see any more than about a metre in front, so I just told myself ‘just keep going, just drive’, so I just had to pray no trees had come down across the road or anything like that,” Glynis said.

After rounding up all surviving cattle and animals, they had to figure out the next steps. Fortunately, Vinnies was there to provide hope and practical help.

“Vinnies has helped dramatically. My husband was so low he’d say ‘I don’t know how to get out of this’. The day St Vincent de Paul put that money into our account gave him so much hope, he knew he could feed his cattle.”

Anna, Anne Marie and Irene – New South Wales

Our volunteer members Anne Marie, Irene and Anna have had long careers supporting their communities as nurses, and now they're giving a helping hand with Vinnies.

Over the Australia Day long weekend, the committed trio were providing support at the Ulladulla Recovery Centre, a hub where South Coast residents picking up the pieces from bushfires can find help from Vinnies, other community organisations and the government.

All three of these amazing women also travelled a distance to pitch into the local effort: Anne Marie from Sydney, and Irene and Anna from Shellharbour.

Anna, who moved to Australia from Austria at age 17, put it perfectly: "I want to do something meaningful. Because my life in Australia has been really wonderful and I want to give back."

And they really did give back – in just the first week of operation of the Ulladulla Recovery Centre, the team of Vinnies volunteers met with around 25 families each day and approved almost $250,000 in vital relief payments for them.