Cabramatta High School establishes bushfire relief partnership with Cobargo

Cabramatta High School has adopted a koala named Twinkles.
Cabramatta High School has adopted a koala named Twinkles.

COVID-19 restrictions didn't stop Cabramatta High School students and teachers from supporting communities that have been impacted by the bushfires.

The Cabramatta High Bushfire Committee was founded in February with about 40 students and teachers meeting once every fortnight to work on creative projects to help support the areas as a result of restrictions.

The target location of the Bushfire Committee's aid was Cobargo and the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.

The school did a range of programs and fundraisers to support communities that had been impacted by the fires. These included:

  • Sponsorship of wildlife reserves including Port Macquarie Koala Hospital where Cabramatta High School adopted a koala named Twinkles.
  • Student fundraisers to purchase a Christmas gift for every student in Cobargo Public School (82 students in total).
  • A team of teachers and students travelled to Gibbergunyah Creek, Mittagong to help clear land and rebuild shelters at a wombat rescue/sanctuary as part of conservation work.
  • Fundraising and gold coin donations by students and staff to send funds.
  • Donations of clothing and linen.
  • Donations of farming tools to support rebuilding.
  • Donations of appliances and other household necessities including hygiene products.
  • Donations of linen given to wildlife reserves to assist in the care and rehabilitation of animals.
  • Beanies and scarves were knitted in the lead up to winter.
  • Video messages from Cabramatta High School students to Cobargo Public School students wishing them a Merry Christmas.

Cabramatta High Bushfire Committee members Dawson Pham, Kathleen Trinh and Garoufalia Kosic answered the Champion's questions about the partnership with Cobargo.

What were the initial goals?

Initially, what mattered most was supporting the vulnerable. The people, the places, and communities that were endangered due to the late 2019 bushfires were to be prioritised as a way to show that Cabramatta High School was focused on ensuring the emotional and physical recovery of the affected areas.

What projects have the committee undertaken?

The Bushfire Committee held many fundraisers and school events that gave students an opportunity to donate to the Cobargo Public School, as well as show their support. These included gold coin donations, food stalls, knitting workshops, clothing and appliance drives, sponsorship of wildlife rehabilitation centres, recording of video messages of support.

What challenges did the group face?

COVID-19 prevented many physical, face-to-face contact activities between students and Cobargo residents so the plan needed to change.

With some rural and remote areas, technology can be difficult to maintain at the best of times. With a community recovering from such damage to their infrastructure, this became a little bit harder. Not being to run as many face-to-face fundraising events as the team would have wanted to meant that the school had to get creative with advertising events and creating small group stalls that maintained social distancing protocols.

What are examples of positive stories that have come out of the committee's work?

The Cobargo Public School was overjoyed to know that Cabramatta High had been supporting their school so early on. Cobargo is now on their way to a growing recovery as members of the community are able to safely prepare for the coming year. Students who received gifts were so happy and excited to know a school so far away had students who were thinking about them and wanted to see them have a great Christmas.

What are the future goals of the committee?

The goals of the Bushfire Committee are not only to support communities affected by the bushfires, but to also establish connections with other outside organisations and communities that are in need of support, however possible. 2021 serves as a year where more projects will be planned for Cobargo in hopes of further supporting them throughout the year.