A purpose-built wheelchair accessible bus, replacing the one destroyed in the bushfires, is now on the road and providing a lifeline to vulnerable NSW South Coast residents thanks to the Business Council’s bushfire recovery charity, BizRebuild.
BizRebuild chair Sir Peter Cosgrove praised the determination of bushfire-devastated local businesses to get back on their feet and support their communities. “Business is the glue that keeps communities together. Whether it is bushfires or a global pandemic, we need businesses to pull through and keep communities alive,’’ Sir Peter said.
BizRebuild stepped in to assist elderly, disabled and disadvantaged South Coast locals after their only private wheelchair accessible transport service was destroyed in the summer bushfires. For some aged care residents, the loss of the bus meant they had no way to visit the outside world.
The business led-initiative provided family-owned small business Rixon’s Bus Service in Mogo with an $87,000 grant to buy a replacement wheelchair accessible bus.
The new vehicle can accommodate up to eight wheelchairs and will help improve the lives of vulnerable South Coast locals. It means Rixon’s can resume its door-to-door services transporting people to medical appointments, taking them on nursing home day trips, and providing the only disabled transport service between the South Coast and Canberra.
Rixon’s owner Malcolm Rixon said: “To receive a gift like this is just so heart-warming, it has revived our spirits and given us purpose and a renewed desire to carry on and improve our service to the community.”
Sir Peter added: “The determination of businesses like Rixon’s, who have lost so much in the bushfires coupled with the impacts of COVID, has been a testament to the resilience of these devastated communities.”
Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said: “As we head into the next bushfire season, BizRebuild will continue to work with communities across the country to keep their local businesses open, bounce back and importantly give the hope they need to come out stronger on the other side’’.
“BizRebuild is here for the long haul to help fire affected communities who have been hit with the double whammy of COVID-19. Ensuring businesses can rebuild is critical to the nation’s economic recovery.’’
Mr Rixon added: “In the past, Rixon’s provided services to aged care facilities and the broader community with our wheelchair bus which was burnt out through the fires. BizRebuild have generously donated a new wheelchair bus which can take up to eight wheelchairs.
“This means we can now expand travel opportunities to clients and nursing homes in the community. Enabling people with mobility needs to attend medical appointments, social gatherings and group outings,’’ he said.
The Business Council set up BizRebuild in the wake of the bushfires to help small and local businesses get back on their feet. This is critical to assisting communities to recover and rebuild.
BizRebuild is generously supported by Business Council members and the broader business community. Since it was established, BizRebuild has helped more than 1,200 bushfire-affected businesses and locals across Australia. This includes distributing over $1.2 million worth of vouchers to 930 businesses giving them the chance to re-tool and re-equip themselves quickly means they can get back to work quickly and keep workers in jobs.
A great example of BizRebuild commitment to the South Coast community is the establishment of a pop up mall in Mogo to house up to 10 local businesses and the Mogo Local Aboriginal Land Council, who lost their premises, equipment and merchandise when the village was hit hard by bushfires on New Year’s Eve.