Aussie tradies provide bushfire relief
How widespread the impact of the bushfires on communities is still to be determined, but one group has already begun to mobilise to assist in the rebuild.
Tradies for fire affected communities is an online Facebook group that was established to effectively and safely mobilise tradespeople from across Australia.
The platform aims to help rebuild impacted communities by connecting them with registered tradespeople.
One of the group's founders is Piers Smart, who realised that what he had to offer to communities was time.
"All the advice to help seemed to be centred around financial donations, and I unfortunately wasn't in a position to part ways with any money," Mr Smart told news.com.au.
"But what I had was my spare time, and I thought there must be more people like me that were willing to donate their time."
Mr Smart started the Facebook group with the help of his mates at the start January and already has reached 8000 members.
"The trades community are passionate and it's a reflection of the Aussie spirit to want to talk less and do more," he said.
"I think this is why we have so many members in such a short period of time."
Mr Smart said when the time was right tradies would be sent out to impacted areas.
"We need to make sure sites are safe for our tradies as well as protecting homeowners by making sure they've had insurance assessments complemented and have necessary permits," he said.
Mr Smart said they were still building their online portal that allowed tradies to create a profile offering services and clients to do the same with what work they needed.
"The tradies can then search for jobs and get in direct contact with the homeowners to see if they can be of assistance," he said.
Mr Smart said the portal was a long-term solution as it could be years before the damage was repaired.
"Australia has never been in a national disaster quite like this, so why wouldn't local businesses lean in and do whatever is possible to help in a time like this," he said.
"But large business can still play a part by giving our trades the things they need to get the jobs done so they don't have to reach into their own pockets."
Already there has been no shortage of tradies offering help on the Facebook page; from a bricklaying company in Melbourne to a chippie in WA and even a Sydney business offering diggers and trucks for the clean-up.
One business owner assisting the cause is Scott McLaren, who is offering his team at Scott Electrics to assist in any way they can.
"I am a electrician with a team of 5 others. We are licenced and insured to work on domestic and commercial homes or sites anywhere in NSW," Mr McLaren said.
"We are based in Sydney but willing to do what is required. Who doesn't love camping."
Mr McLaren is no stranger to donating his company's time and services as over Christmas Scott Electrics dedicated each Monday to help a dedicated charity or organisation.
One such organisation was Parkinson's NSW at Macquarie Hospital, which told The Daily Telegraphthat the company helped create a dedicated space for the organisation.
"Giving back is part of who we are and the values that align us as an organisation so for me and I speak for the rest of the team here too, its incredibly important to us," said Mr McLaren.
Mr McLaren expects the company will be helping rural communities for a long time as the devastation is far reaching and there is no quick fix to the rebuild.
"We're taking about generations worth of history, hard work, memories and sadly lives completely wiped out," he said.
"For me, as an electrician with skills that will be highly sought after in the months to come when rebuilding starts, I am in a position to be able to help many people by simply donating my time and that's what I intend to do."
Mr McLaren said that helping others was part of his 2020 plan and now those plans would go directly into the bushfire affected communities.
"We will divert those resources to this appeal and offer ongoing assistance where we are able," he said,
"As I mentioned though, we will await further instructions from the appeal and discuss with them the best way to move forward and start planning."
FARMERS LENDING A HAND
Farmers are also pitching in via the AgriWebb Community - Helping Hand Project.
The project set-up by AgriWebb co-founder John Fargher helps connect farmers with other farmers who may be able to provide machinery, feed and even labour.
"We know there are people out there who want to lend a hand, so we decided we could drive a community project to help connect these people with those who need help," Mr Fargher said.
Within an hour of going live, the program received 20 requests, and Mr Fargher expected it to only increase from there.
"We see our community projects being long-term initiatives whether it be for fire, drought, floods or any other community-related event for that matter," he said.
"We are here to help connect remote communities with others that understand their specific needs."
Mr Fargher said farmers could register to help or assist others on the portal and from there the AgriWebb team would matchup relevant farmers.
"Nobody understands the needs of farmers like farmers. They have the equipment, supplies and know-how to make a difference and quickly," he said.
Mr Fargher's own family has been impacted with his father-in-law's property being hit by the Kangaroo Island fires.
The project is just one way AgriWebb is helping farmers.
"With many of the AgriWebb team coming from farming backgrounds, we will also be looking to volunteer our time for those of our customers that are in need," Mr Fargher said.
"We are not just connecting people but rolling up our sleeves and helping on the ground too."
The company is also building out a tool that will allow farmers to calculate fence infrastructure losses for insurance claims.
"We want to clear any hurdles farmers face in an already tough time. This simple tool will save our customer hours of time in calculating the losses," Mr Fargher said.