Various groups – Gawad Kalinga Australia, Council of Australian Filipino Organisations of Victoria (CAFOVI), Filipino Community Council of Victoria (FCCVI) and Rowena Hansen have organised various drop off points around Melbourne for the collection of non-perishable goods. These items, including food and toiletries are aimed to support the bushfire victims in East Gippsland. 

A team of about 20 Filipinos from around Melbourne worked together on 5 January to pack non-perishable food items in Rowville for urgent bush fire relief to areas around Lakes Entrance in East Gippsland.

Five individuals, including Filipinos Rowena Hansen and Andrea Smith were selected and given clearance to go into Lakes Entrance to drop off goods in this urgent delivery. This was organised to directly support an area which the Victorian government and other authorities have yet to organise food relief.

Relief goods for fire victims and firefighters were delivered at four locations the following day on 7 January. In Bairnsdale, the food and toiletries were taken to a vacant Freemasons Hall, where people in need are able to drop in. James from Freemasons Bairnsdale sincerely thanked all those who contributed to the donations.

Packing of goods in Rowville, Victoria
Packing of goods in Rowville, Victoria
Relief goods delivered at Freemasons Hall in Bairnsdale, Victoria
Relief goods delivered at Freemasons Hall in Bairnsdale, Victoria
Donated relief goods for bushfire victims
Donated relief goods for bushfire victims

In Lakes Entrance, some goods were taken to a hotel where 144 firefighters, including recently arrived foreign firefighters are staying. Packed food was provided to help them devote their time and energy in fighting ongoing fires for the day. Jay, a firefighter from California was extremely grateful for the groups’ contribution.

Rowena Hansen and Andrea Smith meet Jay a Californian firefighter
Rowena Hansen (left) and Andrea Smith (right) meet Jay, a Californian firefighter at Lakes Entrance

Other food items were also taken to an evacuation camp near Lakes Entrance, and a hall. Those running the hall are in contact with the firefighters who travel to areas that have not had electricity or phone reception for a number of days and in need of food and water.

None of the above centers have received donations from other relief agencies.

Hansen who remained in the region for the day noticed that people were only taking what they need. “You can see in their faces the shock and grief but they are trying to keep it together. Some who went to government agencies were asked to provide ID before they can get groceries so they were grateful that the access to food was quick and hassle free,” said Hansen.

Other groups including FCCVI, and Gawad Kalinga Australia through CAFOVI are organising similar donation drop offs in the coming days, and organising meetings with the Filipino bushfire victims.

Pampangueno Club donates $1000

The Pampangueño Club of Victoria / Emergency Relief Fund for the Philippines (ERFFP) has donated $1000 towards the bushfire relief fund organised by Gawad Kalinga Australia, as announced by Roy Lansang Carbungco.

Marisa-Ric Vedar of GK Australia states ‘donations will be converted to cash vouchers so people can use it to pay bills, buy medicines, buy children’s and other personal needs.’

Gawad Kalinga is one of the advocacies of the Council of Australian Filipino Organisations of Victoria (CAVOVI).

Find out how you can help the Filipino bushfire victims.

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