Vinnies Bushfire Appeal: How we're helping

7 February Update

As communities continue to recover from the Black Summer bushfires, Vinnies has expended over $6.3 million in financial relief payments so far for those impacted by the fires in NSW, QLD, VIC, SA and the ACT. In addition to these cash payments, our volunteer members have given out hampers of food, water, clothing, toiletries, bedding, and other essential items provided from our local Conferences and Vinnies Shops. 

Nationally, we have expended just over $2 million in Commonwealth Government Emergency Relief Fund grants to over 1,000 households. 

If you have been affected by bushfires, please call 13 18 12 and select option 2 for assistance.

Stories from our volunteers

Dave Newby

Before the bushfires in eastern Australian became the “new normal”, the NSW far north coast was shocked by the fire front that devastated rural properties, including valuable timber plantations, around Rappville, just south of Casino. On 8 October 2019, the fires took lives, destroyed houses in and around the village, scores of livestock and the main employer, the Tarmac timber mill. The operation is now a pile of rubble. In the process, 30 local jobs were lost. The pub is closed and up for sale. The streets are almost deserted.

Amazingly, the smaller Rappville timber mill survived, thanks to on-site water tanks and the efforts of staff. Leading the response was mill worker Dave Newby.   

“We’d used all the tank water and just managed to save the show”, Dave told Mick Albany, Vinnies Richmond Regional Conference President. “Then we noticed a spark take hold at the end of one of the roof beams… we used one of our water bottles to put it out, and thank God, that was the end of it.”

Dave is now a key member of the Rappville bushfire recovery committee that includes Casino’s Mayor, which is planning the community’s rebirth.

Dave speaks highly of the work being done by local community groups and charities (including Vinnies) as the long recovery phase begins. To all these groups Dave says, “From the bottom of our hearts, thanks for your support. It’s unbelievable what you’re doing for us. Our community is absolutely shattered, but it gives us strength to know we’re not doing it alone.”


Colin Billet 

Bushfires have devastated Ulladulla since the beginning of December. In addition to destroying more than 350 houses in the Shoalhaven region, flames have engulfed areas to the south in Batemans Bay, to the north in Kangaroo Valley, and to the west in Braidwood, resulting in over 313,000 hectares of burnt-out land. 

After weeks of helping at the Ulladulla Evacuation Centre, local Vinnies member Col Billett is now leading a team of volunteers at the Ulladulla Recovery Centre. In just the first week, the centre was up and running. Col and his team met with around 25 families each day and approved almost $250,000 in vital relief payments for them. 

“Prior to being officially involved in the evacuation centre, our local Vinnies conference provided our community with clothing, toiletries, food and stuff like,” explains Col. 

“It’s going to take a long, long time for a lot of people to ever recover to what they would consider normality.”

How you can help

To donate to the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal, call 13 18 12, visit www.bushfireappeal.com.au or give in-store at any Vinnies Shop.