Less than a year ago, devastating fires ravaged many parts of Australia.

South Australia was one area that was badly impacted. At the end of October 2019, strong northerly winds combined with existing dry conditions and high temperatures created dangerous bushfire conditions for the state.

More than 200 bushfires burned across South Australia, including one major fire at Cudlee Creek in Adelaide Hills.

The Adelaide Hills fire destroyed 23,000 hectares of land, 84 homes, more than 400 outbuildings and 292 vehicles, before finally being brought under control.

It also devastated a lot of the area’s natural wildlife, including the koala population and their food supply.

One Adelaide Hills-based organisation determined to turn the tide and help the area recover post fires was Adelaide Hills Koala Rescue (otherwise known as 1300KOALAZ).

The organisation provided eucalyptus trees to the property owners whose land had been ravaged by fires. 

As part of our Bushfire Recovery Grant program, Commonwealth Bank provided 1300KOALAZ with $50,000.

With this money, the organisation was able to donate 26,000 trees to Adelaide Hills residents, with a further round of trees to be donated to residents next autumn.

Co-founder of 1300KOALAZ, Dee Hearne-Hellon, said the grant had also allowed the organisation to purchase new equipment for its rescuers in readiness for the upcoming season.

“We are extremely grateful for the generous grant from CommBank,” she said.

“The grant has allowed us to pursue our environmental goal by regenerating lost koala and wildlife habitat and by donating trees to those who lost so much in the devastating 2019/2020 bushfires.”

Now, just over a year after the fires left their indelible mark on Adelaide Hills, the community has made great inroads on the path to recovery.

Commonwealth Bank’s Head of Community Investment, Nathan Barker, said the bank was proud to be able to help Adelaide Hills with its recovery via the grants program.

“1300KOALAZ is such an amazing organisation. Over the last 12 months, they have worked hard to raise money and help the area get back to its best,” he said.

“We are so pleased to be able to help 1300KOALAZ replace their lost and damaged rescue equipment, purchase more aviaries to house koalas requiring in-house care, and also revegetate Adelaide Hills and the surrounding suburbs to enable the wildlife recovery.

“At Commonwealth Bank, we are committed to supporting the communities in which we serve, and the 2020 Bushfire Recovery Grants program is just one of the ways we are showing that support,” he said.

This year, the bank has provided 213 grants (valued up to $50,000 each) to various community organisations across Australia that have been impacted by the 2019/2020 bushfires.

In addition, the bank and its customers have donated in excess of $4 million to the Australian Red Cross, and raised over $350,000 via the ‘Fiver4Fires’ National Staff Fundraising Day.

Through the bank’s Bushfire Recovery Grants Program and various fundraising efforts, CBA has donated more than $10 million to fire-impacted communities across Australia.

To commemorate 12 months following Australia’s devastating bushfires, over the coming weeks and months CBA Newsroom will share some of the stories of hope and optimism that the bank was privy to through our Bushfire Recovery Grants program. 

Photo Credit: Pascal Renet from Pexels