BlazeAid volunteers invaluable to Bega Valley's bushfire recovery

Dan from the UK is part of the BlazeAid Cobargo camp.

Dan from the UK is part of the BlazeAid Cobargo camp.

Many would say the work of BlazeAid in our bushfire-devastated communities is priceless.

If you had to put a value on it though, some conservative estimates have been revealed for the Far South Coast, showing the contribution in the order of $2.5million-plus.

BlazeAid has three camps in the Valley - Cobargo, Towamba and Bemboka - hosting numerous volunteers since the organisation arrived in Cobargo in late January.

Camp coordinator Stuart Beazley told ACM the Cobargo camp alone has spent an estimated $210,000 on materials and fuel over the seven months, and the organisation's debit card has clocked up $150,000 at local businesses.

"We have had a total of 7872 volunteer days at the Cobargo camp, so on top of that if each person spent $20 per day in the community, that's another $157,400."

Mr Beazley said with each volunteer putting in an average six hours a day, a nominal rate of $30 an hour would see the value of their efforts reach in the order of $1,416,960.

Bob and Mary, local volunteers who have been with the BlazeAid Cobargo camp since February - this is their eighth BlazeAid camp.

Bob and Mary, local volunteers who have been with the BlazeAid Cobargo camp since February - this is their eighth BlazeAid camp.

The Towamba camp has not been set up for as long, with a total of 2358 volunteer days. However, the contribution is still nothing to be sneezed at.

BlazeAid has spent around $40,000 on materials and $75,000 in local businesses. If each volunteer spent $10 a day (a lower figure as most volunteers in Towamba are backpackers and there are no shops in the village) that's another $23,580.

"The value of volunteer days with six hours worked each day at $30 per hour would be $424,440," Mr Beazley said.

And in Bemboka, BlazeAid has spent $25,000 on materials and fuel, and a further $15,000 on its debit card in local businesses.

Volunteers have put in an equivalent 432 days of work in the Bemboka area valued at $77,760.

If each person spent $10 per day in the community, that's another $4320.

"This adds up to a local 'contribution' of $2,617,000 - let's say $2,500,000 as a conservative estimate - in direct cash spent or labour donated in the Bega Valley," Mr Beazley said.

"BlazeAid provides approximately 30-40 per cent of materials so you could safely say another $400,000 worth of materials have been purchased in the local community to complete the fencing work that has been undertaken by BlazeAid.

Infrastructure costs at the camps - portable buildings, utilities, generators and coolrooms and so on - are paid for by council but reimbursed by Resilience NSW

Mr Beazley said some of the buildings have also been generously given by Coates Hire for free, and the council contributed $5000 per camp.

The rest of the day to day costs and fencing material supplies comes from donated funds to BlazeAid.

If you would like to donate, or sign up as a volunteer, visit blazeaid.com.au.

This story BlazeAid volunteers invaluable to Bega Valley's bushfire recovery first appeared on Bega District News.