Eastern Emergency Relief Network Inc (EERN) was established in October 1995 at the instigation of local welfare providing groups (in the City of Whitehorse) in recognition of the need for a central source of second-hand furniture and other household goods for distribution, as emergency aid, to the less fortunate in our community.
The people assisted are those who have been identified by member agencies to have an urgent need. 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. Such traumas include long term illness, unemployment, loss of home and belongings through fire, domestic violence, lack of family support or homelessness, refugees.
Recipients can only access the warehouse through member agencies of EERN.
The real value of EERN to the community can be gauged by the amount of assistance it provides to member agencies and their clients. In the financial year 2015/2016, EERN was open for 241 days. On those days agencies picked up 2271 items of furniture and other household goods. This equates to an average of 9.46 pick-ups per day. The pickups could be a complete household of furniture, a toaster or microwave oven.
EERN distributed 2030 electrical items including, 107 refrigerators, 170 washing machines, and 87 televisions. Other items distributed included 464 couches, 853 beds, 120 microwaves, and 357 food boxes.
In each quarter of the financial year, an average of 84 agencies and their clients accessed the EERN warehouse. Of the 84 agencies, 11 of the agencies utilized the service on average 25 times each quarter. One agency used the resource 273 times during the financial year.
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 (ie 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 $95,000 – $100,000 per annum.
Other than modest annual membership fees (currently $60 inclusive of GST), the ongoing running costs of EERN are almost entirely dependent upon donations from its many generous supporters including 2 Local Government sources, Philanthropic Trusts, local Lions & Rotary Clubs and from many private sources. There is neither State nor Federal 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. The Rotary Club of Balwyn also the Lions Clubs of Blackburn North and Nunawading, maintain an additional important Saturday morning collection roster.”
The number of member welfare providing agencies has increased to over 140, notwithstanding a practical need to limit new members to those organisations domiciled in the City of Whitehorse and abutting Council areas.
Some details about a few of the significant personalities associated with the story of EERN to date are set out below:
Keith Rooney OAM as the “founding father” of EERN remained actively involved with its promotion and the fundraising vital for its ongoing viability until his “retirement” at the end of 2009. The organisation, and the community at large which it supports, will always be grateful for Keith’s vision, passion and involvement in its establishment. He is a life member of the organisation.
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
Kevin Thomas retired from working within government in November 2012 and since then has been working with the private sector and housing agencies in the areas of staff development, mentoring and complaint processes. He began his employment history as a youth worker, originally within an institutional setting and then within a locally based employment program.
Kevin developed and implemented guides for the homelessness assistance and community housing sectors on successful complaints management and dealing with difficult clients.. Prior to his retirement, Kevin held a senior managers role within the Department of Human Services. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Nunawading.
Lyndy Davis is Treasurer of EERN elected in 2015. After an early career in the banking sector, Lyndy spent time in country South Australia and held various positions on local community organisation committees. On moving to Melbourne, she qualified in Accounting, Business Management and Financial Planning and worked in various Finance, Administration and Management positions in a diverse range of industries. Lyndy is currently working in the community welfare sector as a Financial Counsellor supporting people experiencing financial distress.
Other Members of the Management Committee:
Keri Fairley ( 17 years)
Ray Harrison (3 years)
Joy Smith (2nd Year)