Whilst Australia continues to suffer through one of its worst fire seasons in history, one thing that has been overwhelmingly evident is the outpouring of assistance and community spirit.
People in Australia and around the world have been extremely generous with donations of money and items, time and groundwork to get those affected back on their feet again.
Some production farms in the state have lost up to 90% of their workable land, others have been completely burnt out. Couple this with crippling drought and fluctuating stock and produce costs, some farmers are having to face the impossible decision of trying to rebuild their businesses or finish up completely.
Cue Pat Heaphy, Melbourne Polytechnics Yan Yean Farm Supervisor, and Scott Brander, Aqua Facility Supervisor, working with Judy Clements from the Whittlesea Agricultural Society. This team of heroes have been coordinating the delivery of 34 hay bales to farmers in the bushfire-affected Nariel Valley, in the northeast of Victoria, an area well known for its beef and dairy production and in dire need of additional feed supplies until farmers can get back on their feet and pastures start to regenerate following the devastating fires.
A member of the Victorian Farmers Federation; the Whittlesea Agricultural Society put the call out to local farms for excess hay. Generous donations were received from the Whittlesea and Strathewen areas which enabled over seven loads to be distributed to the Corriyong and Nariel Valley areas. 'If you can get it directly to the farms, you know it has gotten exactly where it needs to be', said Judy.
This isn’t the first time our agriculture department has headed the call for assistance. In 2018, our Yan Yean farm delivered 120 bales to the northwest of Victoria near Broken Hill. This area had had a sustained drought for three to four years and was in desperate need of support. We are proud of our staff, students and partners for coming together and demonstrating true community spirit.
As the news begins to quiet and people continue to get into the flow of 2020, please don’t forget those that will struggle for months and years ahead. You can still donate at many of the registered charities found here and consider scheduling winter visits to the high country and East Gippsland as the year progresses.