The Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia organised an event this week to show its support towards the Country Fire Service Foundation (CFS), following the catastrophic bushfires which destroyed areas east of Adelaide earlier this year.

The January bushfires resulted in more than 20,000 hectares being burnt in the Adelaide Hills area.

The CFS is an independent body that provides financial assistance to CFS volunteers and their families who have suffered death, injury or loss whilst in the line of duty.

Bill Gonis, president of GOCSA, who instigated a funding campaign in March to assist CFS said: “The critical aspects of the bushfire, the resources mobilised, and the human personnel that were required to extinguish it, made us think that, as a community, we had to help in some way.”

GOCSA presented a $5,000 donation at the Community’s premises, which was raised through a ‘radiothon’ conducted during the Greek programs on community radio station 5EBI FM.

Dignitaries attending the ceremony included SA Minister for Emergency Services Tony Piccolo, Andreas Gouras, Consul General of Greece in SA, Grace Portolesi, chairperson of the South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission and Greg Nettleton, chief officer of the SA Country Fire Service.

CFS executive officer Elizabeth Davis, who accepted the cheque from president Bill Gonis, thanked the community for the generous donation, which she said was beyond expectation.

“We were literally inundated by people interested in providing help when the bushfires broke out and to have the Community unified was invaluable,” said Ms Davis

Minister Piccolo said that the Community’s gesture to collect money for fire victims was an important one which portrayed a spirit of solidarity to fellow South Australians.

“One thing we do well in Australia is that we display an immediate willingness to reach out to support people who have been affected during emergencies,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter whether your members have donated one dollar, $100 or $10,000. What’s significant is that your Community has considered that some of your fellow citizens have an absolute need,” the minister concluded.

It’s not the first time that GOCSA has found funds for victims of natural disaster. In 2007, $127,000 was raised, also through a radiothon, and a contribution from the South Australian government for the victims of the deadly bushfires in Ilia, Greece in August of that year.

GOCSA wishes to extend its gratitude to radio station 5EBI FM for making the CFS radiothon possible.