DOZENS of residents have slammed the Dereel Bushfire Relief Committee for giving $7000 to the Dereel Men’s Shed when CFA groups and fire victims are still wanting.
Rokewood resident Brenda Caldow, in a letter on behalf of more than 60 locals, said all those who donated to the appeal did so in the belief they were donating to fire victims.
But they were in “utter surprise and anger” to be informed how the money had been spent to date, with the largest amount given to the Dereel Men’s Shed.
The Men’s Shed was unable to obtain a grant to fund the building of its shed without $7000.
Three of the people on the bushfire relief committee have a direct association with the men’s shed, including the Dereel Men’s Shed president.
The Dereel Bushfire Appeal was set up by the Buninyong and District Community bank in response to last year’s March 27 bushfire that claimed seven dwellings and 1300 hectares of land across 119 properties.
To date, the three Dereel projects to receive funding are ‘firewood distribution to affected individuals’ ($2500), ‘stock feed distribution to affected individuals’ ($2000) and the ‘community’s contribution to the new Dereel Men’s Shed’ ($7000).
More than $20,000 remains to be distributed.
The appeal’s chair Stephen Falconer said he had a dialogue with the community through the bushfire recovery group that he was happy to continue.
Dereel’s Men’s Shed president Doug Braddy said he had not been to a bushfire recovery meeting in three to four months as he was too busy rebuilding his house after he fire.
He said he backed out of the decision-making process to avoid a conflict of interest.
Mr Brady said most people on the Dereel Bushfire Committee were involved in several community groups including the CFA.
The Men’s Shed provided an important service to the community by giving needed support to isolated residents, he said.