Darren Thomas, our Subject Matter Expert, has a farm near Singleton in NSW. Unfortunately, it burned during the recent fires there just prior to Christmas. All of us at Redhanded felt for Darren as he worked in the office with the anxiety of not knowing if his property and cattle had survived—and with the inability to access it to find out. Thankfully there were no stock losses and property damage was confined mainly to fencing.
Coincidentally, Lachlan Drummond’s son Felix, who is a CFA volunteer at Birregurra in South West Victoria was called up, and flown in, to fight the very fire that was bearing down on Darren’s property. Neither Lachlan or Darren knew exactly what was going on, only that it was serious. Felix gave up shifts in his casual job over Christmas without hesitation.
Our Design Director, Holly Tunstall, spent New Year’s Eve in an evacuation shelter Moruya, inadvertently caught up in the fires at her holiday destination. Holly returned safely via a long inland drive. Our Creative Director, Jono Correll who lives in North East Victoria and is a volunteer firefighter has also been actively involved. His father’s farm burned with the loss of two houses in the fire near Bruthen.
Lastly, we can see in the image above, just how close the fires got to Jim Gall’s property (founder of Redhanded and Clemenger NZ CEO) in North East Victoria in the New Year. Thankfully, Jim’s property was spared.
We appreciate the generosity of the Clemenger Group in donating $100,000 to the fire appeal. In addition to this, Redhanded is developing its own response, working towards a long-term approach with clients and network partners to ensure the support of our firefighters, regional communities and the businesses they run are sustainable for years to come.
As a business, we expect there may be some impact from the fires (in addition to drought conditions), given many of our clients derive their revenue (and marketing budgets) from the strength of regional and rural farming communities. However, we have been preparing for this for some time and adjusting accordingly. It is worth noting also that there are regions in Australia that are neither drought or fire affected and even from disasters such as this, comes opportunity.
The challenge for fire-affected regions ahead will be recovery longer-term, after the fires are out and the issue has largely left the headlines. I encourage you to think about what personal actions you can take six or twelve months from now. There has been much emphasis on ‘hero’ firefighters and rightly so, but it will be the small businesses and native flora and fauna that need your generosity in the months and years ahead.
Finally, make no mistake, climate change is real and we are only just beginning to feel the consequences of inaction. How each of us respond to this, will impact the future of regional and rural Australia and the planet.