Our small rural village of Cobargo on the NSW Far South Coast was one of the hardest hit by the bushfires that have devastated so much of eastern Australia this year. This is a community-led fundraiser to help Cobargo manage its recovery and ensure the village not only survives this disaster but can thrive.
Cobargo was overwhelmed by a massive firestorm on New Year’s Eve. Three people died in the conflagration and a fourth person died later in hospital. At least 110 homes were destroyed, many more properties badly damaged, our farms have been devastated, thousands of native animals killed, our forests burnt and the historic heart of our beautiful village was razed to the ground. The neighbouring village of Quaama and localities, including Yowrie, Wandella, Verona, Coolagolite and Dignam's Creek, were similarly fire ravaged.
Cobargo needs to restore the morale and confidence of its community, help people deal with the long-term trauma of these fires, restore the local economy and local jobs, and regenerate our natural environment.
We are in touch with other communities that have been through such fires during Ash Wednesday, Black Saturday, the Canberra Fires and Tathra. They tell us that recovery can take as many as ten years and more, that government and institutional support lasts only for a short time after the event and communities with their own funds have the capacity to keep on supporting their people for the long haul.
We already know that mental health is going to be a key issue for us. Many of the relief organisations that provide mental health support are already visiting our area to provide services but we know that our people are turning to their existing community groups for support - sports groups, music groups, social networks, the volunteer groups they are already involved in. We are looking at practical ways to sustain these groups during the recovery.
The aim is to aid community recovery by supporting the community networks that provide the social support we all rely on so much in the bush.
Our rebuilding must also be a reimagining - we want to implement more sustainable solutions for energy usage, including a village micro-grid. We want to manage our environment better, improve the readiness of our village and localities to deal with future disasters. Our aim is to ensure that we emerge from this tragedy as a stronger, regenerative community, guided by regenerative principles. We need your help to do this.
The Cobargo Community Bushfire Recovery Fund Inc has been set up by four of Cobargo's leading not-for-profit community groups: the Yuin Folk Club Inc, which produces the annual Cobargo Folk Festival; the Bowerbird Opportunity Shop; the Cobargo Cooperative Society Ltd and the Cobargo Show Society Inc, which runs Cobargo's annual agricultural show. The fund is run by community volunteers, so overheads and admin costs will be kept low. Projects will be identified through community consultation; developed and implemented by local people, drawing on expert help as needed. This group will support the community discussion on the future of our village.
The fund will be managed transparently and fully audited. Each of these organisations are run by reputable committees and all have a history of giving back to the community. Safeguarding the reputations of our village and our parent organisations by ensuring this fund is properly managed is a priority.
While we are shattered by what has happened to our region, we are full of hope for the future.
All enquiries, including media, to [email redacted]
All contributions, big and small, welcomed. You can contribute through this GoFundMe page or directly to:
Cobargo Community Bushfire Recovery Fund.
BSB: 633 000
Account no: 171 210 016
- Amanda Thomas
- Georgia Tomaszewski
- Frank Cheok
- meredith brooks
- Oliver Halfacree
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