Rising from the ashes

Corrina RidgwayThe West Australian

In the aftermath of the Esperance fires, an initiative called Mallee Cleanup and Cheerup is living up to its name, brightening moods with direct and immediate on-farm assistance to fire-affected producers from donors Statewide.

Administered by farming community members Tywen Coles, Margaret Agnew and Mick Fels, the project was initiated by Scaddan producer Lyn Norwood.

The Norwoods themselves lost almost everything from the fires.

The project, named by Mrs Norwood, aims to connect affected producers to a central schedule of donations and volunteer resources without the regulation and red tape that prevents other funds and assistance packages from being immediately accessible.

The main interface for both donors and affected producers alike is via the Mallee Cleanup and Cheerup Facebook page.

Taking the lead from the administration of the WAFarmers cash and grain donation fund, Ms Dawe volunteered her time along with WAFarmers members Mr Fels and Mrs Agnew in an effort to create a detailed database and a simple, one-stop interface for producers.

"The funds we have access to are available right now, and we have already been using them to assist producers," Mrs Coles said.

The organisers are also able to use cash donations as added leverage when purchasing supplies from businesses in town.

Local businesses have extended the generosity by giving "mates' rates" to the initiative when purchasing materials with cash funds.

Mrs Coles said the generosity from across the State had been staggering. "The registry is absolutely huge, with more than 300 donors," she said.

"Presently cash donations are probably the best, as we can use them to purchase many of the incidentals that have been lost. Most producers haven't had time to properly comprehend the little things that will need to be replaced."

Mrs Coles also believes the main call for assistance from producers is yet to come.

"I think that after harvest - from January on - is when producers will really start to utilise the registry and volunteer base," she said.

"We are so appreciative of the amazing amount of donations and offers of assistance and we hope that people can hold on to that sentiment until harvest is finished. Producers will then have had time to stop and assess damage properly as well as co-ordinate recovery efforts."

To be involved with the assistance efforts, you can "Like" the Mallee Cleanup and Cheerup Facebook page, or message the administrator Tywen Coles through the group's page.

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