GERF History / Founders
The GERF Trust was officially inaugurated in 1982 by 3 trustees, Donald Yeates, Manager of Bairnsdale Advertiser. Peter Nixon, a Federal Member for Gippsland in 1961 and Donald Macfarlane who at the time was general manager of the APM and became the CEO of Amcor, a large Australian corporation.
GERF began as a result of the Gippsland bushfire event in 1977-78. A public meeting was held at Armadale Reception Centre Sale, where it was collectively agreed upon that there was a need for a fund that could provide immediate financial assistance to victims in a bushfire situation. From that moment forward, the fund was donated to by supporting citizens all around Gippsland, starting with the Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd, who provided legal and administrative support and a $5,000 per annum contribution for the first three years.
Since the Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983, GERF has funded millions, providing immediate financial support to thousands of individuals, families, farms and rural businesses after major natural disasters impacting Gippsland.
Including the Gippsland Floods (1990, 1993 and 1998), East Gippsland bushfires (2002/03 and 2003/04), the Great Divide Bushfires (2006/07), Mudslides and Flash Floods (2007), June 2007 Flood Event, Black Saturday Fires (2009) and the largest Appeal ever conducted by GERF in 2020 for the 2019/20 East Gippsland bushfires. Over $10.4M was funded to 2,350 East Gippsland residents, farmers and families. For over 40 years, rapid GERF grants have complemented government personal hardship grants and for many people have provided an important lifeline in a crisis.