ABC: BlazeAid needs more volunteers to help bushfire recovery, sees solution in paying backpackers
Garry Wilson and Rob Golgini are leading the call for more volunteers. (ABC Rural: Cara Jeffery)
Grey nomads cannot do all the heavy lifting when it comes to rebuilding fences in bushfire-affected country; it is young backpackers who are needed to bolster the workforce.
That’s the call from Tumbarumba BlazeAid camp coordinators Garry Wilson and Rob Golgini, who are desperate for more people to join their camp in the NSW Riverina Highlands.
“We have been flat out, we have already reached over 100 properties that have been damaged by fire,” Mr Wilson said.
“We would have replaced over 1,000 kilometres of fencing already, but there is so much more to do.”
BlazeAid is a volunteer-based organisation that works with communities in rural Australia after natural disasters to rebuild fences and other structures that have been damaged or destroyed.
There are between 700 and 1,000 volunteers working across 33 camps in NSW, Victoria and South Australia that were impacted by bushfire, but the organisation would ideally have 2,500 people on the ground each day.
Grey nomads make up the majority of the Tumbarumba BlazeAid workforce. (Supplied)
Winter is coming
Mr Wilson said he was concerned that once the cold weather hits the NSW High Country, Tumbarumba’s BlazeAid workforce would be diminished.
“Winter is coming and all of our volunteers are caravanners, and as soon as it gets cold they are going to head north,” he said.
In a bid to get more people on the team, they have been advertising on noticeboards and shop windows in highlands towns and larger centres such Wagga Wagga.
“Truly, we could have 200 fit people for 12 months and we probably won’t get through what we have got to do,” Mr Wilson said.