by Karan White, Founder
As I write our Kindness Impact Report for this month, it already feels at though it’s been Winter for weeks. The reality is, Winter has not yet officially begun despite the zero temperatures and snow in many parts of regional Victoria and NSW. Like the searing heat of Summer, Winter brings no respite for animals as they face an absence of shelter, warmth, and food. Coping with the unique challenges of each season is one we plan for but sadly we are under-resourced for.
In this month’s report we’ll take a look at the impact we’ve had thanks to the ongoing generosity of Patrons, some of the challenges we’ve faced, successes we’ve celebrated and our forward plans.
Animal Patrons Distribution Centre
COVID-19 has decimated our economy and had devastating impact on communities. Unfortunately, we have also felt this impact at Animal Patrons Australia. The Distribution Centre was closed for five weeks during March and April. During this time, we endeavoured to facilitate deliveries to the best of our capacity. Supplies were relocated to residential addresses where they were sorted, counted and dispatched via courier. This was a challenging and expensive process, particularly the cost of distribution. However, we continued to operate to the fullest capacity we could during this time.
In late April, we re-opened the Distribution Centre to the public on Saturdays only, between 10am – 12 noon. With the cold and wet weather that May mostly offered, and the remaining COVID-19 restrictions, we had limited passer-by traffic during opening hours. We remain optimistic that as Victoria continues to recover from COVID-19 and we see relaxation of restrictions this will result in increased visitation to the Distribution Centre.
In addition to our published opening hours, we regularly facilitate private sanctuary collections from the Distribution Centre. If a sanctuary or carer is able to arrange collection of their donation, we prefer to do this privately to discuss their ongoing requirements, without interruption. Animal Patrons Australia is very flexible with these appointments.
From 6 June, 2020 the Distribution Centre opening hours will shift to Saturdays 9am – 11am. We will continue to assess opening hours and days in response to continuing directives from Government, seasonal change and volunteer resourcing.
Animal Patrons Australia Geographical Impact
Our main service region is Victoria, with deliveries extending to every ‘corner’ of the state. As the Distribution Centre is located near to Melbourne CBD, it’s a convenient location for distribution across Victoria.
We also supply one major NSW regional co-ordinator, who distributes supplies into the Blue Mountains area. It is estimated up to 80% of the world heritage-listed region were lost in the Summer 2019/2020 bush fires.
Costs of shipping a 25kg box of supplies is approximately $30. Food and medical supplies are very heavy, meaning wider distribution is cost-prohibitive for us at this time.
Animals you have assisted through your Patronage
The animals we have been able to support through your generous patronage are predominantly kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, native birds and sheep. We have also been able to assist the rehabilitation of a small number of koalas in Victoria and NSW.
Through our COVID-19 efforts, support has also been provided to domestic pets.
The driving purpose of Animal Patrons Australia is to assist any animal affected by disaster. When COVID-19 struck, we moved quickly to deploy resources we had available to us.
Distribution of food for pets of families affected by COVID-19
Many people faced immediate unemployment, had little or no cash reserves and no immediate prospect of re-employment.
Thanks to your generosity, we were quickly able to increase supplies of domestic pet food to provide to families in need. And a whopping half-tonne of dog food was sent to our friends at Pets of the Homeless.
Animal Patrons Australia regularly receive cat, dog, rabbit, bird and guinea pig food. So, if you know of a family who needs assistance, or a local charity or organisation we can supply to, please ask them to get in touch with us.
Supply of Personal Protection Equipment to front line medical staff
Hospitals, pharmacies, and other medical professionals had generously responded to our call for assistance following the bush fires. Because of this, Animal Patrons Australia had substantial stock of personal protection equipment such as sterile gloves, masks, aprons, face shields and other essential supplies. Through our network of nurses and medical staff, we arranged for these supplies to be returned to those working on the front line in the early days of COVID-19 response.
Bush fire Victims, do they still need support?
Yes! This is a resounding yes!
COVID-19 has pushed the plight of bush fire victims away from media focus. In some respects, this has been a blessing as it has given those affected time to process the horrors of the past seven months. Time to grieve, to understand how to rebuild their communities and their resiliency.
Conversely, it has also shifted the focus from the desperate and continuing need of these communities. Many grass-roots organisations continue to work far beyond their capacity to ensure some relief continues to flow to those who need it so.
And, despite opening this report with reference to the challenges we’re facing as we head into Winter, the harsher reality is that bush fire season is once again, just around the corner. We have but a few short months to build our supplies and resources in preparedness for this.
Our challenges and successes
Challenges we’ve faced at Animal Patrons Australia
Since the impact of COVID-19, it has been extremely difficult to maintain operations. Many of our volunteer team experienced significant changes to their work circumstances, meaning they could not contribute the time they had previously to Animal Patrons Australia. And, with strict social distancing protocols in place, operating the Distribution Centre has been extremely difficult.
Understandably, people also needed to be increasingly cautious with their discretionary spend. This means lump-sum cash donations and volume of product donations declined across late April and May.
Operational capability was reduced. We had to carefully consider how often the Distribution Centre could be opened. The volume of product we received and distributed slowed. Community outreach (contact with new sanctuaries and carers in need) practically stopped. And communication with you was also impacted. No doubt, you will have seen reduced number of social media and blog posts. Data-entry of our inward and outward goods has also fallen behind with our master stock and distribution records in manual (paper) format for the time being.
Sadly, we’ve also fallen behind in personally and publicly thanking those who donate to us. This feels like an immense failure on our part and causes me to feel impolite. The reality is each donation fills my heart with joy and the next immediate response is to put it to its desired purpose. In time, as our resourcing improves, we will be sure to personally thank all those who continue to extend kindness to us.
And, our successes!
Despite these challenges, we are also enormously proud of the successes we’ve achieved during this time. We have continued to support carers of Australian wildlife recovering from bush fires and other disasters. We have been able to support families affected by COVID-19 care for their pets.
During April and May, benefited from some new skills being volunteered. Lauren Palmer has written some beautiful blog posts for us. 5 Animal Themed Ways to Captivate Your Kids (and Selves) during isolation has been one of our most-read blog posts. Lauren’s second post, How to help native wildlife recover after bush fires will be published soon.
Ray, from Lyf Solutions, has undertaken some essential work on reducing our website loading time from 17 seconds to under 4 seconds, as well as some other enhancements. Whilst this might not seem to be a priority, it’s vitally important that people can access information about our ongoing needs. A website that is not functioning well or is slow to load will prevent this information being readily accessible and cause people to lose interest.
We also introduced $5 Fridays and we are so thankful to those who have made regular and ad-hoc donations on Fridays. And of course, those who kind souls who routinely arrange deliveries of products from our wish list and make our hearts sing.
Above all, the greatest success is bringing together this community of Patrons who continue to donate to their fullest capacity. Whether this be donation of skills, money, goods, time, sharing and commenting of our Instagram and Facebook posts, or in some other way. Without you, we would not have been able to continue to support the care of so many Australian animals. This success makes the challenges easier to forgive and move past.
How you can help us
Whilst we have a benefactor who has generously donated use of our premises, there are still costs with providing centralised support to sanctuaries and carers of domestic pets and Australian wildlife. Some costs are obvious: sourcing and distributing food, general and medical supplies. But other costs are less visible. Costs such as public liability insurance, electricity for the Distribution Centre and website hosting costs. The operational costs of our work are kept as lean as possible and even with this mindfulness toward costs, we need around $4,500 per year to keep our doors open – of which insurance comprises around $3,500 of this amount! These are costs we simply cannot avoid.
Comparatively, by investing this amount to keep the doors open, Animal Patrons Australia is able to receive and distribute hundreds of tonnes of product, resulting in the well-being of thousands of animals’ lives. We also provide other tangible services to the community by keeping our doors open.
Animal Patrons Australia are registered fundraisers. We value and respect every donation made to us. Each donation has a direct impact on providing rescue and rehabilitation of animals affected by disaster.
Today, I’m asking if you can make a financial donation to us. More than ever, we need a cash injection to enable us to keep extending kindness in the community we serve.
Donations can be made directly to our bank account:
If you’d like to make a credit card donation, please click here for additional options.
The month ahead
Next week, we’ll be visiting Wildlife Victoria. We’re excited about this visit and will share more of this in our next update.
Our Distribution Centre will be open to the public on Saturdays 9am – 11am (new hours). Please drop in, if you are able – we’d love to meet you.
And, our focus will be strongly maintained on extending our kindness impact. We commit to you, that we will stretch resourcing to the maximum for the rescue, care and rehabilitation of animals.
What would you like to know?
Please email me if you have any questions about our work, if you’d like to receive specific information in our updates or if you can help us with the donation of skills, financially or otherwise. I’d love to hear from you.