Hand Heart Pocket, the charity of Freemasons Queensland, has made $300,000 available to Rotary for drought assistance in the state’s struggling south west.
It is currently engaged in giving out $100,000 of that through clubs in the western region in the lead-up to Christmas.
Master of the Augathella lodge, Dave Walters said the money had come from the Freemasons’ Board of Benevolence, and they had decided to work together with Rotary in the south west to distribute it.
“We didn’t want to work in opposition to anyone, and we wanted a proven method of helping people,” he said. “Rotary’s system of distributing money has been working well.”
Charleville Rotary Club president Ric Newson said they had set up their system 12 months ago when Rotary district 9630 first gave them $10,000 to distribute.
“We’ve had to keep going since then,” he said. “We use a voucher system that we distribute via the Rural Financial Counselling Service and Distance Education parent liaison officers.
“They’re the people in the front line. They’re the ones who know who’s in need, and the businesses in town are primed and happy to receive the vouchers.
“They get reimbursed by us and it’s working well.”
Dave added that it was also appealing to his group that there was a guarantee that the money given out would go to local businesses, and that there would be no administration fees.
“This is not going to be an overnight thing,” he said. “The need for ongoing assistance is going to be there long after the drought breaks.”
He added that even if people were reluctant to accept vouchers, the knowledge that they would be helping local business helped.
Of the immediate $100,000 made available by Hand Heart Pocket, $30,000 has gone to each of the Rotary clubs of Charleville and Roma, and $20,000 to each of the Rotary clubs at St George and Mitchell.
So far the Charleville representatives have visited Christmas events at Tambo, Cooladdi, Adavale and Scrubby Creek, and will be at Eulo, Toompine and Augathella next weekend.