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Rebuilding Flowerdale with Help from A Private Foundation


30 April 2009 at 4:11 pm
Staff Reporter
The fire ravaged community of Flowerdale in Victoria was not about to disappear under the ashes of Black Saturday or wait for the bureaucrats to roll in - so, with the help of a private Foundation called Portland House it went about rebuilding the village.

Staff Reporter | 30 April 2009 at 4:11 pm


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Rebuilding Flowerdale with Help from A Private Foundation
30 April 2009 at 4:11 pm

The fire ravaged community of Flowerdale in Victoria was not about to disappear under the ashes of Black Saturday or wait for the bureaucrats to roll in – so, with the help of a private Foundation called Portland House it went about rebuilding the village.

The fire ravaged community of Flowerdale in Victoria was not about to disappear under the ashes of Black Saturday – or wait for the bureaucrats to roll in – so, with the help of a range of supporters, including a private Foundation called Portland House, it got started on rebuilding its community.

Portland House is a family foundation based in Melbourne that used it resources to deliver disaster grant making in the small town of Flowerdale.

The locals felt they had been forgotten in the first hours and days after the fires that left five people dead and four out of every five houses in the town demolished. Only the pub survived unscathed.

The Foundation rolled in with the first four caravans at the mini village that was starting to establish itself on the recreation reserve just 14 days after the fires.

Philanthropic Executive for Portland House is grantmaking expert Genevieve Timmons, who says affected communities taking the lead is the key in disaster grantmaking. Not all foundations and trusts will want to be part of an emergency response, and may prefer to wait until the emergency relief phase is complete before putting in their funds. But for those who do want to get involved quickly, linking with community people is the place to start.

Timmons says Portland House wanted to directly benefit the local community which fitted with its motto of ‘right time, right people and right spend’.

Unlike the areas around Kinglake, no tent village had been set up in Flowerdale but the locals knew what they wanted and they wanted to stay.

She says once the Foundation knew what the community needs were it had to ensure that it had good stock, that it was well insured and the caravans were what the locals wanted.

Knowing this, Timmons says to engage in the emergency relief process you have to know the obstacles as well as the advantages to keep the money relevant.

She says of great benefit to Portland House was taking part in a briefing run by Philanthropy Australia, Red Cross and the State Government early in the piece that outlined the scale of the disaster, the progress of the fundraising, and the work being undertaken by the government and Red Cross.

Portland House focused on Flowerdale.

Timmons says there are a number of guidelines or rules that make for effective disaster grantmaking and the first two are ‘do no harm’ and ‘listen to the community’.

She says from Portland House’s perspective, getting involved early meant that it could see every dollar it put in turned into $100 of additional community support in the following few weeks.

Other assistance also hit the ground running in Flowerdale – Deloittes and its CEO of Deloitte Digital, Pete Williams whose family members were burnt out in the fires, along with WA industrialist Andrew Forest.

Timmons says there was no stopping this close knit community – the locals just didn’t want to wait for the Red Cross funds to become available or government officials to make decisions for them. They wanted to start the rebuild with their own community-power – the power of the Flowerdillians!

Pete Williams has set up a blog with regular updates on the rebuild and the strength of the community and the involvement of those who have come to help like Portland House Foundation.

He says the spirit that Flowerdale has and which has grown since Black Saturday is special and we want to ensure that those that lived here before the fires can rebuild. We also need to provide facilities for kids, the elderly and everyone else in between to make sure Flowerdale can stick together.

Check it out at: helpflowerdalenow.blogspot.com



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