DISTRICT 9650 "THE INSPIRATOR" WEEK 6

Thoughts from the DG - Week 6

What a difference a day makes! I watched the launch of the national Rotary Drought Relief campaign, in partnership with Channel 9 and the Farmers' Federation. Tamworth was the first cab off the ranks with our Rotarians out in force to support their Assistant Governor, Dimity Betts, as she spoke to represented Rotary on Monday morning. Dimity did a great job. As a younger 'face of Rotary' she would certainly dispel the myth (in many viewers' minds) that Rotarians are a lot of business people in suits. She was brilliant; I was so proud of her. As I write this, over $2.2 million has been raised, and Rotary Australia are hoping for $5 million plus.

Where should our clubs direct their funds now?

I've had a few calls from clubs about where to direct funds. My advice is to continue to support our own District's Drought Relief RAWCS project, set up by our RAWCS chair, Reg Pierce (apart from Narrabri and Gunnedah who have their own). This is why.

I took part in a Zoom meeting with our national Rotary campaign directors and the other 20 Governors around Australia this week to discuss the options, and the good publicity Rotaryis receiving from the project.

The national money is being channelled through RAWCS into a private ancillary account, and monies dispersed from this must go through a Level One charity – current registered RAWCS Drought Appeal Projects will qualify to apply for this. This means, as our project is already registered, that our district will be able to tap into some of the National Campaign money for the farmers in our district. That's good news. And the other good news is that 100% of monies donated will go to the recipients; RAWCS has waived their usual 2.7% admin cost as well.

I spoke to Reg Pierce this morning, and at this point our district fund is growing, but hasn't reached the $15,000 mark we need to attract the $15,000 Compassionate grant. So, keep your club donations coming in please. Reg has set up a committee to look at the dispersion of funds, and how we best achieve this. We are getting advice from those who have experience in this area. Vouchers in our communities are cited as a good way to go; that way, our businesses in drought affected areas are benefiting as well.

Family events and BBQ's to keep spirits up and show farmers we care are also welcomed. What we must remember is that, for our farmers, apart from the cost, hand feeding cattle is a hugely labour intensive, 7 days a week job – they just don't get a break from it and they have been doing it for a long time. Unfortunately, news of suicides out here is coming through as well. I'm hoping that the current campaign can give hope to those people who are so desperate.

We are currently in Coonabarabran,where they are having an event for their community on Friday called 'Drought Catch-up' a chance for people affected by the drought to catch up with their friends. They will be serving BBQed sausages, beer, wine and soft drinks and will have some 60 odd $100 Visa debit cards, and other goods to distribute as well. This is a small community looking after each other; so good to see our Rotarians joining with others in the community to achieve this as well. Coonabarabran has their own Rotary Bookshop; What a treasure trove of books, which are faithfully catalogued into identified categories. The shop goes on and on, and is well supported by their community and passing travellers.

Our next stops will be in Coonamble and then out to Lightning Ridge. From there, the following week we'll come back through Moree (two club visits there) and Inverell. A weekend at home after that will give us a chance to re-new our energies, ready for the next step of our journey.

Warning – A Scam. I had a call from our District Treasurer to tell me he'd received an email (supposedly from me) asking to deposit $3,500 into an ANZ account with BSB and account details. Graeme said the email wasn't up to my usual standards in grammar but thought he should check just the same. So, if you get an email from me asking for money – you know what to do!