The ChillOut festival has ramped up its fundraising efforts in response to the Victorian bushfires, pledging to help the local Country Fire Authority (CFA) and Hepburn Wildlife Shelter.
The shelter, which cares for injured animals, has been stretched to capacity after the recent fires.
ChillOut will continue to raise the $12,000 needed for the Buddies for Wildlife program, an educational initiative involving the Alannah and Madeline Foundation and Wildlife Victoria to teach schoolchildren to care for animals and the bush.
Anything raised over and above that amount will go directly to the Hepburn Wildlife Shelter.
The shelter has taken on 10 extra animals hurt from the blazes, swelling the number of animals in its care to 80.
Although pleased with the pledge, shelter carer Gayle Chappell said she felt the shelter had been -œsidelined in the relief effort with the added inclusion of the CFA.
Chappell said, unlike the CFA, ChillOut fundraising is one of the only opportunities the shelter has toraise significant funds.
-œI feel our issues are being sidelined. The CFA hasn’t been forgotten in these fires, the wildlife has been forgotten and we don’t get any government funding, she told Southern Star.
-œIt’s not just about money -” it’s about awareness which has now been split. The CFA already has hero status at the moment and there is a backlash in funding wildlife shelters when there is a human toll.
Chappell said she was devastated by the number of animals who have perished in the fires or been left dehydrated, homeless and injured with limited resources for care.
ChillOut Festival president Doug Pollard said the festival was committed to raising funds for the shelter and looking at the long-term prospects for wildlife care in the region.
He expects the target of $12,000 to be well and truly exceeded.
-œI don’t think [including the CFA] will decrease the amount of money raised because we are funding on two fronts.
-œIt doesn’t imply that we are diminishing our efforts for the Hepburn Wildlife Fund, in fact we’re looking at long-term awareness and a new generation of supporters and volunteers with Buddies for Wildlife.
Pollard defended including donations to the CFA, saying the festival was continuing to support the shelter and the resources needed by the CFA will only increase in future years.
-œI just don’t think you can ignore aspects of both in the immediate situation and what we can do to prevent the situation in the future, he said.
Collection tins will be available during the festival to raise money for the local CFA, including at the Rainbow Rodeo at the Palais on Saturday, March 7.
info: ChillOut Festival runs on the Labour Day weekend March 6 -“ 9 in Daylesford.