Southern Downs charity questions council relief fund
EMERGENCY relief will soon be available to residents on the Southern Downs, but not everyone is welcoming the new addition.
The Southern Downs Regional Council voted to re-establish the Southern Downs Emergency Relief fund this week.
The fund hopes to distribute donations to people and communities affected by everything from drought to bushfire.
There is a small amount of pre-existing funds available from events such as mayoral lunches, but the bulk of the assistance will come from outside the region, according to Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie.
"I attend a lot of fundraising and charity auctions and I've noticed over the last year our residents just don't have money to spend," Cr Dobie said.
"Our region is financially exhausted so we won't be asking our own residents to contribute."
Rather, the council plans to seek assistance from further afield.
Founder of Granite Belt Water Relief Russell Wantling said he feared council's foray into charity work could detract from his own efforts to supply water to rural residents.
"I think council should stick to council business," Mr Wantling said.
"It will make it harder to find people and organisations to help us."
Mr Wantling said the best way council could help would be to waive the $165 standpipe token fee.
"They need to open those stands up and get them fixed so people can pay for the water as they get it," he said.
"It's ridiculous that rural residents haven't been able to access water.
"People just don't have that money anymore."
Cr Dobie said charities had no cause for concern, as their fund was intended to add to, rather than replace, current offerings.
The fund is expected to be operational next year. For further information call
1300 697 372.