Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund - 45th Birthday Event

Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund is celebrating 45 years of operation and recently held a special event to acknowledge the milestone. President Andy Tegart said “We actually turned 45 in December last year but due to a high level of activity with fire, flood and storm emergencies we had to put our celebration plans on hold. Now we are able to go ahead with a birthday function to recognise the journey and contribution of GERF members and supporters for the last 45 years and the future of GERF in 2024 and beyond”

Dianne Kuyken receiving a thank you gift from Andy Tegert
Dianne Kuyken receiving a thank you gift from GERF President Andy Tegart (with kind permission of LV Express)

GERF was set up in 1978 as a result of a fire in Australian Paper plantations which impacted on local residents in the East Gippsland region. The manager at the time felt obligated to make arrangements to provide emergency financial assistance to those families, and so the GERF concept was born.

Since 1978 GERF has distributed in excess of $20 million to more than 6000 Gippsland residents. Over the 45 years this has been managed by a volunteer committee, and every dollar that has been raised by the fund has been distributed to families in their time of need following natural disaster.

Mr Tegart said that the function held on May 24 at Vine & View in Traralgon, was both a celebration of the achievements of GERF over 45 years and a recognition of the magnificent volunteers who swung into action during flood fire and storm emergencies to provide prompt financial assistance to impacted residents. “It was the first time we have held such an event and it was held in National Volunteers Week. The week recognised the diverse passions and talents everyone brings to the act of volunteering. This is very true of GERF volunteers over the years. We are very keen to acknowledge the role that GERF has played in the Gippsland community in emergency response and the people who made it happen” Mr Tegart said.

Mr Tegart also added “We are extremely grateful to Ausnet Services, Latrobe Health Services and Marinus Link who kindly sponsored our 45th birthday event. These organisations have also been significant donors in the past when we have launched an appeal and they are to be congratulated for their contributions to the Gippsland community in times of emergency”.

Former Emergency Management Commissioner, Andrew Crisp was guest speaker on the night. Current and former GERF committee members, along with representatives from local government, emergency response agencies and major donors to the fund were in attendance.

A feature of the night was a Q&A segment with Yinnar South resident Dianne Kuyken. Di and family were unfortunate to have endured two natural disaster events - a bushfire completely destroyed their home in 2019 and then they were impacted by a storm event in 2021. Di shared her story and GERF experience and gave some poignant insights to the emergency relief process. Her story is available to read and see in a video on the GERF website


Churchill and District News is a community newspaper staffed by volunteers.


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