Councils offer innovative bushfire support

By Staff Writer

The ongoing Victorian bushfire relief effort has brought out the best in local government with initiatives including adopting a town and the sacrifice of annual pay.

The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) has swung behind a state-wide campaign to Adopt-a-Town in Victoria affected by the bushfires.

The Adopt-a-Town initiative will allow Queensland towns, cities or regions to co-ordinate and focus their support to ensure a particular community in the bushfire zone gets back on its feet as soon as possible.

Local Government employees in Western Australia are hoping to raise over $1 million for the Victorian Bushfire Aid Appeal through donations of annual leave, an hour of pay or cash to a fund established by the Commonwealth Bank.

Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) President Cr Bill Mitchell said that the facility enabled employees to contribute to the appeal while recognising the impact of the currently tight economic reality.

“For example if a person donates a day of annual leave they are effectively donating a day’s pay but it will not affect their weekly cash flow as if they had donated the same out of their pay,” Cr Mitchell said.
“The terrible tragedy of the Victorian bushfires makes everyone want to contribute but there is the reality of the current economic situation that could make it difficult for some people, this facility helps solve this problem and donations are tax deductable.”

Councils across Australia have been sending in donations directly to affected communities in Victoria through their councils, by-passing established relief agencies such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) Geoff Lake said the bushfires had brought out the best in local government in Australia.

“Councils have been doing an extraordinary job in response to the issues being faced by their community,” he told GovernmentNews.

“I also think the MAV [the Municipal Association of Victoria] has done a remarkable job in co-ordinating council resources across the sector, particularly councils which have not been affected by the bushfires.

“It shows both the preparedness of many in the sector to lend a hand, but it also shows the years of detailed planning that councils have participated in across the relevant agencies in preparing for a disaster of this magnitude."

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