The Council will also establish a five-year community rebuilding program that would work with the Federal Government’s $2 billion Bushfire Recovery Agency to create employment for volunteers and victims who have lost their livelihoods, as well as help with the reconstruction and provide financial relief. It will be chaired by former governor-general Sir Peter Cosgrove
The Council called on all businesses to provide volunteers with a minimum of 20 days of paid leave as some of Australia’s biggest companies – including ANZ, Coca-Cola Amatil, Coles, Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Qantas, Rio Tinto, Virgin Australia, Wesfarmers, Westpac, Woodside and Woolworths – have already done.
The Council also said it would form a permanent capability to mobilise and coordinate the business community’s response to future natural disasters, with scientists predicting that the extremity of Australia’s natural disasters will worsen because of climate change.
“The BCA and the entire business community is in this for the long haul,” Ms Westacott said.
“Like all Australians, the business community is capable of incredible things. We will work with governments to ensure we do everything we can to match resources with need and help in the recovery effort to rebuild people’s lives and communities.”
Trust will be permanent
The Australian Volunteer Support Trust will be permanent and focus on funding the education of children of volunteers who have died in the fires and in future disasters.
It will be backdated to be effective from the start of the last financial year and administered by a board of independent trustees.