Like all Australians, the staff and Trustees have been overwhelmed by the extent of devastation as a result of this summer’s bushfires, followed by the almost incongruous site of floods. We are keeping a very close eye on the communities in Victoria where we have strong connections and also greatly concerned by the extent of damage to endangered species and habitat. Recovery will be slow and probably not quite like anything that’s gone before.
We’d like to extend our heartfelt support to any of our grantees who have been affected directly. Over the last 10 plus years we have been supporting local community groups and schools in the East Gippsland area and want to particularly send our good wishes and thoughts to our friends in this part of Victoria.
The approach from the Trust – by any measure small players in this overwhelming task of recovery – is twofold.
In January, the Trustees made an initial donation of $50,000 to the FRRR Disaster Resilience and Recovery Fund in January. This modest contribution will enable the returns from this perpetual Fund to be granted out to communities to support disaster preparedness and disaster recovery. This fund ensures that donated funds reach grassroots community organisations who often miss out on receiving disaster donations.
We’ve also boosted our grant funds to support biodiversity conservation, which essentially brings forward an intended approach under our strategy – making it happen a bit earlier. An additional $350,000 has been redirected to biodiversity conservation for the remainder of this financial year. The urgency to get biodiversity conservation right becomes clearer every day.
Our other approach is to take a long-term view, because as we know recovery from trauma – physical or emotional – is long.
To this end we’ve been doing a lot of listening and trying to engage as widely as possible with others in philanthropy, government, and with the community – those on the ground – to understand what communities need. We need to learn from the past and consider how we best work collaboratively to achieve sustainable outcomes that are community-led.
As part of increasing our learning, In the last month we’ve participated in a Corporate & Philanthropic roundtable discussion for bushfire affected communities hosted by FRRR and Philanthropy Australia, we’ve attended an AEGN forum on climate change addressed by the author of ‘Facing the climate emergency’, Margaret Klein Salamon, and visited Beechworth to hear directly from community members, local government and businesses on how to build community economic and social viability. The Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship and former Federal independent local member, Kathy McGowan, hosted an expert speaker from Scotland, on community-led responses to natural disasters.
One of the key things I’ve learnt from Margaret Klein Salamon, psychologist and climate change expert, is that if you acknowledge the pain and fear we all experience during such unimaginable disasters, then it motivates and mobilizes us into action.
Once we do that, we need clear-eyed thinking about what kind of strategic approaches will help Victorians and our environment, in the long-term. This is what we are working on and we’ll have more to say in coming months.
CEO, the Ross Trust
Funding reef restoration off the coast of Dromana
A grant of $287,000 over two years will support The Nature Conservancy Australia’s plan to bring back Victoria’s lost reefs, with a reef restoration project in Port Phillip Bay off the coast of Dromana.
The plan is part of Australia’s largest marine restoration initiative, bringing back 60 shellfish reefs across Australia.
Early intervention on mental health in the regions
A project to explore the unique challenges of accessing mental health care for primary-school aged children in regional and rural Victoria, is the beneficiary of a Challenge and Change grant of almost $100,000.
A grant of $299,300 over three years for the Lungs of the Lake project run by the East Gippsland Landcare Network, heads up a strong commitment to biodiversity conservation, reflected in the decisions of the Ross Trust Trustees.
The Green and Golden Bell frog is one of the endangered species set to benefit.
50 years of the Ross Trust Roy Everard Ross - introducing the man behind the Trust
This year marks 50 years since the death of our benefactor, Roy Everard Ross. He was not a man who wanted a high profile, but it is always insightful to understand the origins and drivers of any philanthropic organisation.
We have recently taken possession of some old family photos, which has inspired us to include some short snippets about Mr Ross in our updates this year.
Roy Ross hailed from Mansfield in the foothills of the Victorian Alps. Having obtained qualifications as a surveyor and engineer in Melbourne at the Working Men’s College – now RMIT University – he worked for 25 years as a shire engineer in West Gippsland.
As in all country towns, your day job is just one small part of your involvement with the local community.
During this time, he was intimately involved with the response to the 1939 Black Friday fires, having the unenviable task of leading the police rescue team to help remove the remains of people who had perished in the small town of Noojee (Sandilands, J. Roy Everard Ross, p20).
It is with this in our thoughts, that we pay tribute to the resilience of Victorians affected by fires this summer and thank all of those who have worked tirelessly to help with the response and recovery.
Pictured here at the Loch Valley in Gippsland, Roy Ross is far right, in conversation with Mr E R Torbet and Mr Harry Watt. Photo supplied by Mrs Janice Kirk.