The Rapid Relief Team (RRT) arrived on the NSW South Coast today, as part of Operation Fire & Drought Relief, delivering 369 bales of hay donated by Rio Tinto to bring hope and a helping hand to both fire and drought-affected farmers in the region.
As a result, 120 farmers and their families directly impacted by the recent bushfires and longstanding drought from areas around Bemboka, Cobargo, Bodalla, and Moruya each received a donation of hay.
The RRT trucked the 240 tonnes of donated hay from Wubin, Western Australia on five road trains, stopping in Canberra to break the load down to 10 road train semi-trailers, for delivery to South Coast farmers.
The RRT also collaborated with both the NSW Farmers Federation and the Bega Beef Board to ensure the hay went to those families who needed it most.
To date, as part of RRT’s ongoing Operation Drought Relief, volunteers from the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church (PBCC) have distributed over 12,525 tonnes of hay and 1,621 bulker-bags of livestock supplement to 2,773 farmers across Australia.
RRT volunteers also served up a mean burger and fresh cup of coffee in Bemboka as the local community came together to have a bite to eat and support their neighbours in need.
RRT Managing Director Ron Arkcoll said Christian values of care and compassion motivated them to help farmers across both bushfire and drought-stricken Southern NSW.
“Today was about bringing together our farmers and bringing together a community to have a bite to eat, a chat with mates and support each other through some ongoing tough times,” Mr Arkcoll said.
“What these communities have experienced – though both prolonged drought and now bushfire – is unimaginable.
“And so, we want them to know that mates stand with mates – and whether it’s fire, drought or any other natural disaster, they’re not alone.
“We also want to thank those who made today possible – Rio Tinto for their generous donation of hay, and both the NSW Farmers Federation and the Bega Beef Board for ensuring help got to where it was needed most.
“As Christians it is our nature to help our community – so we hope this hay can provide a little hope and go some ways to bringing a small amount of relief.
“Our values of care and compassion are what motivate us, it gets our volunteers up early to help farmers collect their hay and to bring some hope and cheer to farmers on the NSW South Coast,” he said.
Member for Bega Andrew Constance said it was important for Australians to continue to rally around each other.
“I want to thank the RRT for giving so generously to our famers who have already endured so much.”
“Operation Drought Relief brought our community together today, giving another helping hand to our local famers and their families.”
Deputy Premier John Barilaro commented at today’s event in Moruya, saying “this is the best of the community.”
“The Rapid Relief Team has been travelling around assisting those affected by drought and now fires,” he said.
Vanessa Todd, a Bodalla Dairy Farmer, and her apprentice Thomas “TJ” Pearson picked up 13 bales of hay this morning from the Rapid Relief Team at Bodalla, to take back for her 264 milkers.
TJ was happy to help with the early-morning tractor work, and like so many people in the area, had his own story about the fires and his lucky escape.
“We had to drive through the fire then nearly got stuck in Cobargo. The fire was bearing down on us towards Bermagui. We were waiting all morning in an evacuation centre and when we left we had to drive over powerlines, under trees burning and all kinds of stuff,” he said.
Vanessa lost significant amounts of farm infrastructure in the fires, in what has become a compounding disaster.
“Most of NSW was under drought, so the fires were a massive kick in the guts to us, and after we got though the fires, we had a flood,” said an understandably emotional Vanessa.
“Thank you very much to the Rapid Relief Team who donated this to our community,” she said.
RRT is the charitable arm of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church and is made possible by church volunteers who lend a hand at emergency service operations, fundraisers, community events and more.
Every day in some small way, RRT volunteers offer a helping hand to those in need. For more information about the Rapid Relief Team, go to https://www.rapidreliefteam.org/