AFTER the community dug deep to raise over $2.5 million for the Victorian Jewish Bushfire Relief (VJBR) appeal last year, affected school communities are now enjoying revitalised facilities and a boost to educational opportunities for students.
Jewish Community Council of Victoria president Daniel Aghion and executive director Judy Fetter paid a visit to Mallacoota Prep-Year 12 College last month to see firsthand the impact of allocations from the appeal directed to boost their school community.
The rebuild included the opening of the new outdoor multipurpose courts, the fast-tracking of students’ access to new school resources, clothing and safe accommodation for living and studying. $250,000 was also directed towards the Bushfire Education Scholarship Program for students across Victoria’s south-east. This program has led to 38 scholarships being awarded.
Fetter stated, “The staff and students’ excitement and passion for the new sporting facilities available for the school and broader community was overwhelming.”
Working closely with St Vincent de Paul, David Smorgon, Ruth Alter, Ian Davis and Fiona Geminder of the organising committee, the team focused on offering educational pathways for students and quality projects for communities devastated by the 2020 bushfires in rural Victoria.
Smorgon said, “The appeal allocations have been made strategically and after considerable review, to ensure the funds would be utilised with greatest impact for the rebuilding of local communities and to help those most vulnerable.”
Aghion and Fetter’s trip saw the announcement of an additional $200,000, on top of the initial $1 million funding from the VJBR, allocated to enable the continuation of a school counsellor position and wellness programs for 18 months.
Aghion remarked, “The compounding effects of the bushfires and pandemic on local families and staff in the Mallacoota area are significant and the role of a professional counsellor is a huge step in assisting people to adapt to these dynamics.”
VJBR has worked alongside BlazeAid, Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund, Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal and Snowy River Bush Festival Community 2021, to help communities devastated by the bushfires.