Dr Raymond (Ray) Akhurst brought practical support and kindness to communities devastated by the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires.
A volunteer and member of the St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn, Ray coordinated the Society’s Bushfire Taskforce, supporting local Vinnies volunteers and staff in bushfire-affected areas. He spearheaded both the emergency response and the years of work that followed to rebuild communities.
Ray organised the Vinnies’ Bushfire Recovery Program, setting priorities and strategies, attending meetings, advising applicants and answering countless questions. The program provided almost 10 million dollars through emergency assistance and 165 community grant and development projects from the Snowy Mountains to the South Coast of New South Wales.
He established sanitation solutions for people without access to bathrooms or toilets after the fires and organised Vinnies’ funding of training courses, helping locals find jobs and rebuild their communities.
Ray’s compassion and wise leadership has been instrumental in these communities’ recovery.