Rotary supporting Ukrainian Refugees
Alexandra and Euroa Rotary were given a presentation by Alexandra Rotarians Ian Gibb and Geoff Proctor, outlining our Ukraine relief program.
Up to 1000 refugees at a time are housed in Melbourne at a time (200 in Carlton) mainly in student housing, predominantly women (often grandmothers) and children, and the elderly. The Australian government provides $200/person on arrival, and over time they have access to Centrelink, and a visa which enables them to work during their stay.
With the return of overseas students especially from China, accommodation pressures will increase.
Reaching out through Geoff’s contacts to the local Ukrainian community it was established that what they wanted most was food.
Local champions Bec and Janet at Foodworks helped by locating a trolley for food donations at the Alexandra store. Dobsons Potatoes also came on board with a fantastic supply of local produce.
Truckloads of food were then transported to Carlton for distribution from the Ukraine cultural centre.
On these visits Ian and Geoff observed that first comers seemed to get a greater share of the goods, so have refined the program by transitioning from direct provision of food to a voucher system, liaising with RC Carlton through their president Ian Ada, and Carlton  supermarkets. Initially $1000 was transferred from RC Alexandra to RC Carlton, which was used to purchase $50  vouchers for distribution to refugees, overseen by Licia, for equity.
A second aim, yet to be realised, is to provide an opportunity for some of the younger refugees to visit our area and experience the outdoors, rafting, hiking, fishing etc.
The final aspect of the project is cooperation with other clubs. Rotary Mansfield has already come on board. The 200 people currently in Carlton rotate through, starting there before moving into the community. Their needs will not disappear. This support needs to be long term.
Our President Sharon and Secretary Helen were very well received when they visited an event in Carlton in November. At our annual Easter Art Show this year, opening night guests are encouraged to wear blue and yellow, purchase a supporter ribbon or make a donation to support this worthy program providing food relief for displaced persons. We are hoping to secure the Ukraine dance troop to perform on opening night.
Thanks to all those in Alexandra who supported the grocery collection at Reddrops Foodworks. Without new members and community financial assistance Rotary couldn’t support this worthy cause.