Friday April 17, 2009
As the Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal 2009 has now closed, I write to thank the hundreds of thousands of Australians and particularly those in your local community who gave so generously to help those who suffered.
The terrifying events of 7 February and the days that followed will be remembered as one of the most tragic periods in Australia's peacetime history.
The worst natural disaster in recent memory took lives and property on an unprecedented scale, and has left a scar not only on our landscape, but on our national psyche.
Red Cross, like many of the emergency services organisations, was on the ground providing vital assistance right away and as the extent of the devastation became clearer, we were asked to partner with the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments to run an Appeal to assist individuals and communities affected.
In the face of immense challenges, the power of humanity to unite people for a cause should never be underestimated, and I am proud to report that we have raised more than $315 million.
The donations made through Red Cross are now being distributed by the Victorian Government under the oversight of an Independent Advisory Panel headed by former Victorian Governor John Landy AC, MBE.
The money is helping families to farewell their loved ones with dignity, helping survivors to find shelter and comfort and to begin the process of rebuilding their homes and communities. This is a huge task that will take some time.
Some weeks ago, with our partners the Victorian and Australian governments, we announced we would close the Appeal on 17 April.
We are asking the public to send us any money they have collected by the end of June at the latest. If anyone has already planned a fundraiser after 17 April or knows of someone who has, it is important that they contact us on 1800 811 700 before proceeding.
It is with the most heartfelt appreciation on behalf of Red Cross I wish to convey thanks to all local community members and organisations who contributed to the Appeal, and also to Red Cross staff, members and volunteers who gave and are continuing to give their time to the relief effort overall.
We should be proud of the response, but be aware that there is much to be done, in the rebuilding of homes, of lives, and of communities.
Australian Red Cross