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Asian communities dig deep for bushfire victims

November 27, 2013

Federal Member for Fowler, Chris Hayes MP, praised the local Vietnamese and Chinese communities for their generosity in raising more than a quarter of a million dollars for the victims of October’s bushfires in the Blue Mountains.

Last weekend, Mr Hayes attended the fundraiser organised by the Chinese Associations of Western Sydney, which raised more than $110,000. Two weeks ago, the Vietnamese Community in Australia, NSW Chapter (VCA) raised over $160,000.

"These people are not for the most part wealthy, but their generosity knows no bounds. I was told that many of the donors said they wanted to express their thanks to the Australian people for the help they had received in the past. Others said they donated because they had learnt from the Australian spirit of generosity and volunteering," Mr Hayes said.

The Vietnamese Community contribution was coordinated by a committee drawn from six organisations: the VCA, the Australian Vietnamese Health Professionals Association, the Vietnam Vision Project, the Hope Project, Rotary Club and the Scouts.

In just over three weeks, the Vietnamese groups raised $162,442 through street and email appeals. Three street appeals in Cabramatta, Canley Heights and Bankstown raised nearly $50,000 despite frequent heavy rain. A further $40,000 was raised through the email appeal, much of it from Vietnamese-Australians in other states. The money was donated to the St Vincent de Paul bushfire relief appeal.

The Chinese Community contribution was raised through a fundraising dinner coordinated by the chairman of the Australian Chinese Buddhist Society, James Chan, involving more than 30 Chinese Associations in Western Sydney, and also attended by the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Sydney, Consul Ms Wang Yun.

Media Contact: Chris Hayes MP 9726 3988 or 0419 203 044

"My electorate is the most multicultural in Australia. More than half of the people in Fowler were born outside Australia. It’s also one of the least wealthy in the country. But everywhere I go in Fowler, I see this same kindness and generosity. These people are proud to be Australian, and are showing it in the best possible way," Mr Hayes said.

A symbolic cheque for $110,000 was presented at the dinner on behalf of the Chinese Community to Blue Mountains City Councillor Romola Hollywood to support the Mayoral Relief Fund. Once late donations are included, the final sum is expected to be significantly higher.

"The members of the 30 Chinese Associations in Greater Western Sydney have been extraordinarily generous in their care and support for the people in the Blue Mountains who lost their homes through the bushfires. To know that other communities are reaching out and digging deep to lend their support to our Blue Mountains community is very moving," Clr Hollywood said.