As Australia’s only dedicated charity for country kids, we worked with our friends at UNICEF Australia, who entrusted RFW with $25,000 micro-fund to distribute directly into the hands of those who needed it most.
At the beginning of 2023, many families are still dealing with the direct impact of the floods, a lot of land was still underwater, houses and schools uninhabitable, and communities were cut off from access to schools and supplies.
Using our unique position, RFW was able to leverage its connections in rural and remote communities to reach out to families in need. All in all, 130 families (including more than 210 adults and more than 310 children) received gift cards for $175-$200. The vouchers were for immediate help and made a small but definite impact and helped them know they weren’t alone, and that others cared about their plight.
Some families were living in trailers, while others were only just starting the arduous clean-up process. Some families were forced live apart so their kids could get to school. Others have been isolated from friends and family, with services unable to get in and provide support for weeks.
For one family, who should have been enjoying the excitement and build up to the arrival of a new baby, ended up being separated as the mum-to be had to leave her other children with family members so she could be closer to hospital. Other children had to miss weeks of school and therapy due as their homes were cut off. These are just a few examples of the heartbreak that will take months if not years to recover from.
RFW was able to work closely with our school partners in flood affected areas to nominate families over 80 families. Throughout February 2023, RFW kept reaching out to schools and preschools until we were able to distribute all the funds by May 2023. The platform ‘GiftPayExpress’ who issued the gift cards also donated to the fund so even more cash was made available for the families. The remaining families were direct clients of Royal Far West with children with identified special needs which added complexity to how they were able to cope with the flood impacts.
Families were able to choose how best to use the gift cards – fuel, groceries, furniture, clothes, toys and other household items from their preferred retailers. All the gift cards carried the same heartfelt message “We hope this helps you care for your family”.
Many families sent emails expressing their thanks. A pre-school director said “ It means a lot to know you thought of us’. And one parent said ”Awesome, thank you so much for that, it could not have come a better time to be honest, u are truly amazing”. One family was able to finally purchase a cot for their baby who had been only 3 weeks old when the floods came through. Our school partners shared stories about this funding really making a difference in terms of groceries and living expenses for families who were still living in trailers and working to rebuild their homes and lives after the floods.
The principal from one of the schools said “The families will be very grateful for these, just saying thank you does not seem enough. We have been flooded with love!”
A very big thank you to our UNICEF Australia and all our school partners who helped in this project.