Thursday, 18 April 2024
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Getting clubs back on their feet

Getting clubs back on their feet

Football clubs across fire ravaged East Gippsland can apply for AFL funding to get back on their feet.

The AFL last week announced the formation of a governance committee to administer all funds raised through the AFL’s Community Relief Fundraising efforts.

Essendon Football Club president and former Federal Finance Minister, Lindsay Tanner, will chair the committee, with representatives from across the AFL industry, representing states and territories that have been impacted as well as people with community, legal, infrastructure, club and playing experience.

AFL chief executive officer, Gillon McLachlan, said the committee will ensure the football clubs and families in bushfire-affected areas will receive the support of the AFL community.

“Given the support of our fans, corporate partners and broadcasters we have an opportunity to raise further significant funds to add to the $1.5 million already contributed by our clubs, players and the AFL into the Community Relief Fund, and the $1 million donated to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery fund.” Mr McLachlan said.

“It is important that we have the right governance structure to ensure an effective and ethical process to provide grants to clubs in need in bushfire-affected areas.

“Lindsay’s experience will ensure we have the best process in place, and I would like to thank him and all the members of the governance committee for their enthusiasm to play a part in getting local footy clubs in bushfireaffected areas back on their feet.

“It is vital that we have a strong framework in place and disburse funds over the coming weeks, months and years in an appropriate and transparent manner.”

Mr Tanner, who grew up in Orbost, fought bushfires in East Gippsland as a teenager working for the then Forest Commission and has been an active volunteer firefighter with the CFA in central Victoria for almost nine years. He said he was thinking of all the local footy clubs around the country.

“I was staying in touch with what was going on, I’ve spoken to people I know over that time who were, in some cases, directly in the firing line,” Mr Tanner said.

“I bumped into somebody this morning (last Thursday) who I grew up with in Orbost who is now living at Tambo Upper and he said he was only a kilometre or two away from being burnt.

“I’m a CFA volunteer in central Victoria... it’s been very sad to see what has happened and I know how difficult it is for these communities to bounce back, but they will bounce back.”

The AFL will provide more details around the grant process and contact details for the AFL Community Relief Fund in the coming weeks and will ensure a clear and simple application process.

“I’m delighted to be apart of the announcement for the AFL for further assistance for local footy clubs and organisations associated with football in fire-affected regions.

“There are 250-odd clubs that have had some impact, Auskick operations, a whole lot of issues that have got to be dealt with.

“The AFL has already provided small amounts of money to individual clubs, but is now going to run a program of more substantial grants that clubs are urged to apply for.

“Some are more seriously affected than others and it’s particularly important to me for a couple of reasons. One, I grew up in Orbost, I’ve actually fought bushfires when I was a kid doing a couple of fire seasons with what used to be called the Forest Commission, so some of these areas I know pretty well. And secondly, Essendon Football Club, through the Country Game we initiated with Geelong four or five years ago is continuing to push the argument for country Victoria and country people and country football, so we’re delighted to have this opportunity to contribute.

“We’ll be making sure the process is fair and reasonable, everybody gets a reasonable hearing and that we don’t have any marginal seats getting extra money. “The starting point is detail for application.

Obviously we want to make that as simple and straightforward as possible. We don’t want to have volunteers and clubs having to spend weeks going through all this nonsense in order to put this together.

“We’ve got a meeting scheduled for about three or four weeks where we expect substantial progress to be made with the mechanics by the AFL staff, who will actually run the process.”

Mr Tanner said he has been “inspired” by the bushfire response.

“The AFL has been great, but so have so many companies, organisations. Dyson Heppell (Essendon captain) started this by shaving off his locks I think he looks better now – and he started with a target of raising $50,000 and ended up with well over $300,000, and those sorts of things have been happening in lots of different ways,” he said.

IMAGE: Essendon Football Club president and former Orbost boy, Lindsay Tanner, will head the AFL’s governance committee to administer all funds raised through the AFL’s Community Relief Fundraising efforts to bushfire-affected clubs across Australia, including in East Gippsland.


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