Eastern Emergency Relief Network Inc (EERN) was established in October 1995 at the instigation of local community based organisations providing community support in the City of Whitehorse. It had been recognised that there was a need for a central source of second-hand furniture and other household goods for re-distribution, as emergency aid, to those requiring support in the community. Since that time, the support has expanded to also include the Local Government areas of Manningham, Maroondah, Knox, Monash and Boroondara.
The people assisted are those who have been identified by community based organisations (our member agencies) to have an urgent need. This includes long term illness, unemployment, loss of home and belongings through fire, domestic violence, lack of family support or homelessness, indigenous and refugees. Such need may have arisen as a result of experiencing trauma or loss, where they have a need to move or perhaps cannot afford basic living requirements, where they are struggling to buy essentials such as furniture, other household goods, food, personal hygiene products.
Recipients can only access the warehouse through the member agencies of EERN. Currently there are 111 member agencies.
The real value of EERN to the community can be gauged by the amount of assistance it provides to the member agencies and their clients. In the financial year 2018/2019, EERN was open for 240 days. On those days, member agencies attended the warehouse on 2084 occasions to access and select items of furniture and other household goods. This equates to an average of 8.5 attendances per day. The items selected could be a complete household of furniture, a toaster, jug or microwave oven, food parcel or personal hygiene parcel.
During 2018/2019 EERN distributed over 2090 electrical items including, 196 refrigerators, 319 washing machines, 72 dryers, 211 vacuum cleaners, 186 microwave ovens and 272 televisions. Other items selected included 432 couches, 857 beds, 59 wardrobes and 387 food boxes.
In each quarter of the 2018/2019 financial year, an average of 76 member agencies and their clients accessed the EERN warehouse. In the year 2018/2019, three member agencies accessed the warehouse over 100 times with one of them using EERN to assist their clients 214 times.
Each year leading up to Christmas, over 300 hampers are assembled and distributed across the network of member agencies.
In the 2018/2109 Financial Year, EERN volunteers collected 2048 lots of donated goods at an average of 8.5 pickups per day from the donors’ premises. Additionally, donated goods were delivered directly to the warehouse by the donors.
EERN’s total expenses are made up of two components:
Non-Discretionary – for example, essential running costs associated with factory maintenance, the operation of two vehicles to collect goods, telephone/s etc.
Discretionary costs (i.e. purchases subject to the availability of funding) which cover the purchase of other essential emergency aid supplies, mainly food and bedding. The purchase of such material aid items accounts for 30% of total operating expenditure.
Total expenditure budget is in the order of $100,000 per annum.
Other than income from the annual membership fees, the ongoing running costs of EERN are almost entirely dependent upon donations from its many generous supporters including the City of Whitehorse, Philanthropic Trusts, local Lions & Rotary Clubs and from many private sources. There is no recurrent Federal or State Government funding currently available to this emergency aid facility. As a registered charity, all donations to EERN ($2.00 and above) are tax deductible.
EERN has a volunteer workforce of over 70 men and women. The well-publicised community benefit of the warehouse promotes itself when it comes to attracting volunteers.
Some details about a few of the significant personalities associated with the story of EERN to date are set out below:
Ian Armstrong was elected President at the 2013 AGM after 5 years as Vice President. Ian brings to this role significant business acumen from a lifetime in the real estate industry, a member of the Rotary Club of Nunawading, and a Trustee Director of REI Super, the real estate industry superannuation fund.
James Jamieson was granted life membership of EERN in 2013 for his significant contribution to the organisation as President from 2001 – 2013. Whist James did not seek re-election as President in 2013 his experience is not lost, however, and he continues to play a vital role as Vice President
Other Members of the Management Committee:
Gabby Knaepple has been Secretary for the Eastern Emergency Relief Network since October 2018. She recently retired from The Australian Public Service after spending many years with Centrelink, primarily in the Compliance space, where she specialised in training, staff development and quality assurance. Gabby has been a member of the Rotary Club of Nunawading since 2011. She is currently President of the club for the 2019/2020 Rotary year. Aside from this, she has spent many years volunteering in the Not for Profit sector, in a variety of roles. She assisted her partner run a limousine business based in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne for some years.
Peter Andrews (General Committee)
Mel Knight (Member representative)
Rod Parker has been a General Committee member since October 2019. He has been a volunteer in EERN’s general operations for four years. He is a chemical engineer by profession and has extensive manufacturing experience along with skills in management systems auditing and system improvements.
Richard Upjohn has been Treasurer since October 2019 and previously a General Committee member. He has a range of public and private industry experience across a range of disciplines. He has been a volunteer in EERN’s general operations for over a decade.
In recognition of their contribution, the following volunteers have been awarded life membership of EERN:
Keith Rooney (2001)
Joy Morris (2008) *
Rob Gosbell (2008)
Eric Dixon (2009) *
James Jamieson (2013)
Ross Hopkins (2014)
Ray Freeman (2015)
Ray Harrison (2019)
Keri Fairley (2019)