In November 2018 Eurobodalla Council hosted Eurobodalla’s biggest drought fundraiser, the Eurobodalla Raindance.
Three big events were held simultaneously at golf clubs in Batemans Bay, Moruya and Narooma, with 100 per cent of proceeds – including all ticket sales – going to farmers battling the drought. Eurobodalla Mayor, Liz Innes, said at the time that the scene was set for a fantastic night, with entertainment from Aussie legends Wilbur Wilde, Josh Cunningham of the Waifs and Frankie J Holden, as well as a range of local performers reminding the community that 98 per cent of NSW remained in drought or drought affected and with a dry, hot summer forecast, things could turn nasty very quickly. “The grass may be green after the small amount of rain we’ve had, but our farmers are finding it tough, and will continue to find it tough for some time even after the drought has broken,” she said. “Locally, the price of feed for stock is sky-high, water stores are low or non-existent, and many farmers have been forced to destock their land in low market conditions, having a huge impact on farm income. “The Eurobodalla Raindance is about showing our support and doing everything we can to help our brothers and sisters in need.” 450 people attended - in all Council raise $44,000 At its meeting on 11 December 2018 the Council endorsed 75% of the funds raised to be transferred to Cobar Shire Council for distribution through its determined governance process and a further report detailing the governance process for the distribution of funds to Eurobodalla farmers’. In February 2019 Council set in place the Terms of Reference - Drought Relief Community Steering Committee to determine the most effective governance process for the distribution of the remaining funds to Eurobodalla farmers affected by the drought to enable an Expression of Interest process to commence to establish the Eurobodalla Drought Relief Community Steering Committee. The Council advised that the committee would have a key role in determining the most effective governance process for the distribution of the remaining funds from Eurobodalla Raindance saying "The role of the committee will be to provide advice to Council on the most effective governance process and assist in the selection of funding recipients for Council endorsement." That was the last we heard. Was a committee formed? We don't know. What we do know is that in the last Annual Report it was reported that $33,000 from the Raindance fundraiser was dispatched to Cobar Council.
This leaves a residue of $11,000 that has been sitting in the Council bank account for 18 months. While the Shire was continually impacted by the drought through 2019 and remains so the 25% of funds raised in Raindance HAVE NOT been distributed. This makes a mockery of the Terms of Reference that states: Tenure of the Committee The tenure of the Steering Committee will coincide with the distribution of the funds in the first instance. It is noted that the committee could be extended should the drought continue during 2019. So where are the Raindance funds? A Council spokesperson has responded today June 17th 2020 advising:
“We have $11,025.00 remaining from the Raindance fundraiser. These funds are restricted for use in future projects that support the shire’s farmers as we move into our fourth year of drought.” On June 3rd, 2020, the Mayor told Sophie Longden of ABC South East (time stamp 12:38) that she was "getting more and more disappointed with Red Cross" in regard to their "holding of funds donated by people for bushfire relief" saying "It has to stop, and I think we all, as a community, need to put more pressure on them to get that money out, get it out now".
"People didn't donate to charities for it to be withheld for future disasters" Mayor Liz Innes, June 3rd, 2020
Regarding Eurobodalla Disaster Recovery Fund a Council spokesperson has advised:
“Phase 1 of the disaster relief recovery fund is complete, with 127 of 172 bushfire-affected applicants each receiving $1,000 assistance grants. For various reasons, 45 did not meet eligibility requirements.”
“As of 1 June the balance of the fund stands at $139,853.”
“The Eurobodalla Disaster Relief Management Committee will meet on 29 June to finalise details of Phase 2, which will be announced in the days following.”