Huge move to help volunteer fireys

Bushfires Continue To Burn Across NSW As Catastrophic Fire Conditions Ease
NSW residents will be able to contribute to a fund helping volunteer firefighters by the simple act of recycling. Picture: Sam Mooy/ Getty Images

People in NSW will be able to support the state’s volunteer firefighters by recycling bottles, cans, and cartons through a new partnership.

From Monday until April 2024, people can choose to donate 10c per item deposited through the ‘Return and Earn’ to contribute to the RFS Benevolent Fund, which was established after the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires.

The fund goes towards supporting NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers and their families, including members who were injured or fell ill during their service or the families of volunteers who died.

Bushfires Continue To Burn Across NSW As Catastrophic Fire Conditions Ease
NSW residents will be able to support the funds by recycling through the Return and Earn program. Picture: Sam Mooy/ Getty Images

To date the Return and Earn scheme has returned more than 10.4bn containers, and raised $47m for charities and not-for-profit organisations.

NSW Environment Minister Penny Sharpe urged the community to get on board with the program

“Not only does recycling through Return and Earn help the environment, but it can now also be a great way to give back to our volunteer firefighters who look after us during the bushfire season,” she said.

“I encourage all householders to take their eligible cans and bottles to their local Return and Earn point and consider donating to worthy organisations including the new RFS Benevolent Fund.”

NSW Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib said the fund was a “vital step” in giving back to volunteers, especially as the state faces a brutal fire season.

“We know that our volunteers give so much, protecting their communities and when called on, travelling long distances to support others in their time of need,” he said.

“This is one way to show how much this is valued and ensure RFS members and their families have the support they need.

“I encourage everyone who recycles to consider donating to the Fund to support those who keep our communities safe.”

Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib urged people to contribute to the fund through the state’s Return and Earn scheme. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Pool/ Bianca DeMarchi
Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib urged people to contribute to the fund through the state’s Return and Earn scheme. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Pool/ Bianca DeMarchi

Former NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney has been appointed as the chair of the fund, which will also include Nancy Fox as deputy chair, Louise Meijer as treasurer and Elizabeth Svoboda, and Trevor Anderson as secretaries.

Mr Moroney said it was an honour to “and contribute to the wellbeing of our brave firefighters”.

“Their dedication is commendable, and it is our duty to ensure they and their families receive the compassionate support they need,” he said.

“Community contributions, like those through the Return and Earn initiative, will allow the board to help those who need it most for years to come.”

Leo Fransen died after he was struck by a fallen tree in November. Picture: NSW RFS
Captain Leo Fransen died after he was struck by a fallen tree in November. Picture: NSW RFS
Senior Deputy Captain John Holmes. John was helping battle the Bean Creek Fire. Picture: NSW RFS
RFS volunteer Senior Deputy Captain John Holmes while suffering a medical episode while battling blazes at the Bean Creek Fire. Picture: NSW RFS

This year, two RFS volunteers have died while fighting fires.

In October, Senior Deputy Captain John Holmes died as a result of a medical episode while battling a blaze in the Bean Creek Fire, north of Bonalbo.

Just a month later, Captain Leo Fransen was killed by a fallen tree while fighting the Hudson fire near Walgett, in NSW’s north. He was the captain of the Diamond Beach rural fire brigade, and on a three-day deployment in Glengarry when the incident occurred.