KI rallies for its farmers

Donations flood in as KI rallies for its fire-affected farmers

Life & Style
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THE immediate assistance for the Kangaroo Island community has been swift and "overwhelming", but helpers on the island say the recovery effort will take many months and ongoing support will be needed.

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STOCK UP: Tony and Catherine Newley (inset) volunteer at the Island Care op-shop in Kingscote, which has become a donation point during the Kangaroo Island fires.

STOCK UP: Tony and Catherine Newley (inset) volunteer at the Island Care op-shop in Kingscote, which has become a donation point during the Kangaroo Island fires.

THE immediate assistance for the Kangaroo Island community has been swift and "overwhelming", but helpers on the island say the recovery effort will take many months and ongoing support will be needed.

Island Care has been operating on KI for 23 years.

The registered charity gets sole financial support through its op-shop at Kingscote, which is run by volunteers.

They use any extra funding to create care parcels for people in need within the community.

"Before the fires, we did that kind of work on a smaller scale," Island Care manager Catherine Kewley said.

"We didn't promote ourselves, but the locals knew where we were if they needed help."

But since Friday, January 3, when the Ravine fire started to severely affect multiple communities, Catherine said the shop has had an influx of people appealing for help, particularly farmers.

"There was not a lot of immediate support for them," she said.

"We are only a small team, but because we are local and established, people were more comfortable coming to us, because they know us.

"We mobilised that Saturday morning and put the call out for help through social media."

Island Care has helped a lot of people over the years, so people have been grateful to have an avenue to help back. - CATHERINE KEWLEY

Catherine said the response was overwhelming, from locals, the mainland and even overseas.

"The appeal has just gone viral," she said.

"Island Care has helped a lot of people over the years, so people have been grateful to have an avenue to help back.

"Every day I put a list up on the Island Care facebook page of what we need and somehow, magical fairies just get the stuff for me and send it over.

"There has been truckloads coming in. Just this past weekend, we had 24 pallets arriving a day with items, from clothing, food, boots, tools, gazebos, tables, portable showers and toilets - just everything."

Catherine said she had five local liaisons communicating with landholders about their needs.

"The roads here are still blocked, but we are able to get emergency supplies to them," she said.

"But we need continued wide and varied support, because the needs are getting a lot more specific now."

Fencing gear and farm tools ... are now the priority. - CATHERINE KEWLEY

The number one priority has become farm supplies.

"Fencing gear and farm tools, however basic, are now the priority," Catherine said.

"The military have offered to do the work, but we need to source the supplies."

Generators, livestock feed and feeders, machinery - big and small - and portable showers and toilets were also atop the "most urgent" list.

"Anything to do with feeding and handling livestock is in demand," Catherine said.

"We have been getting some of these items, but these have been the hardest to get. We don't need any more recycled clothing, bedding or water."

Catherine said SeaLink had donated some transport, but financial donations would also help to get items to the island or buy them locally.

"Local businesses have also been struggling," she said.

"The Mayor's Fund has been great, but it's not immediate funding. We need immediate help."

  • Details: 08 8553 2578 or islandcare@y7mail.com

JUNCTION STARTS DONATION DRIVE

ANOTHER local organisation is Junction, which manages the only community centre on KI at Kingscote.

It is a collaborative hub that enables Junction to work with individuals, groups, communities and government agencies to deliver a diverse range of supportive services on KI.

Junction chief executive officer Maria Palumbo said since the fire, it has also become a centre for ongoing recovery services.

"At the moment, the centre has become a point for food donations and supplies for those that are fire-affected," she said.

"We have also been coordinating emergency accommodation, as there is about 110 people that have been displaced, while we have also been a connection point for volunteers."

The social enterprise has also started a campaign, calling for South Australians to purchase fuel and grocery cards for those in need on KI.

Ms Palumbo said the initiative was a practical and tangible way people could support individuals and families, especially those that had lost their homes, and had so far received more than $12,000 in card donations.

BP (OTR) and Caltex (in conjunction with Turner Fuels) are the main fuel retailers on KI and have also donated $1000 in vouchers.

"As a result of the distances people have to travel across the island, many families are under pressure for fuel," she said.

"In some cases, their car is the only asset they have left, so being able to travel independently is incredibly important.

"Plus, for everyone who buys a $40 card from OTR, the company will provide a $50 fuel card and for those donating $20, they will donate a $25 card.

"StarCash cards can be purchased from Caltex service stations and dropped off to our office (on Greenhill Road) at Parkside. Again, we'll make sure they reach KI as quickly as we can."

Junction is also calling for Drakes gift card donations to distribute them with Foodbank SA hampers on KI.

"Looking longer term, we will also consider counselling services, as the need will arise," Ms Palumbo said.

"We will also look into childcare support, particularly while people are preoccupied with meetings and appointments as a result of the fire."

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