Stanthorpe fires. Photograph Sandra McEwan Photography
Stanthorpe fires. Photograph Sandra McEwan Photography

Council green light new association to disperse relief funds

PLANS have been put in place by Southern Downs Regional Council to establish an incorporated association for the purpose of creating a public relief fund.

Councillors voted unanimously earlier today to make the fund operational, that was in fact already in place, but dormant since the 1960s.

Four Southern Downs councillors, CEO David Keenan and two senior leaders within council will preside over the association.

The fund will allow council to draw on funds to support persons and communities impacted by disasters, natural or otherwise.

"This isn't a fund for diverting funds from elsewhere," SDRC chief executive officer David Keenan said.

"This is expanding on a fund that was set up in 1966 and has been in hiatus since that period of time.

"That fund did not even have an ABN number. This about allowing this fund to operate again for the people, whose circumstances do not necessarily align with the criteria coming out of different funding agencies.

"It is there in trust," Mr Keenan said.

CEO David Keenan speaks with Mayor Tracy Dobie at a Southern Downs Regional Council meeting.
CEO David Keenan speaks with Mayor Tracy Dobie at a Southern Downs Regional Council meeting.


Councillor Cameron Gow said Stanthorpe's council of the early 2000s had a similar model in place.

"Stanthorpe Shire Council set up one in 2002 after the fires then," Cr Gow said.

"It was called the mayoral relief fund and Adrian Finlay chaired that. It was set up exactly the same way, so there's a long history of council doing this."

Often the issues with charitable donations is they don't end up where donors would like.

Cr Neil Meiklejohn said this fund would guarantee that wasn't the case.

"There's so many great charitable organisations around. One I've been involved with is Red Cross, but unfortunately, when you donate you can't guarantee the funds will be spent in community where the donor had the desire.

"This will allow that opportunity," he said.

Council will make an application to the Office of Fair Trading to incorporate the Southern Downs Emergency Relief Fund.

The association will receive and distribute funds it receives from Federal and State governments, the general public and other sources.

According to council, once the association is incorporated and Deductible Gift Recipient status granted with the Australian Taxation Office, membership of the association will be revisited at the initial AGM, with the inclusion of community members.

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