The Goulburn Valley Turkish community has rallied together after the earthquake on Monday. Financial donations are the most helpful support right now due to Australia’s distance from the disaster zone. The earthquake is being described as the worst the country has experienced since 1939.
Director of International programs Alex Mathieson said the Australian Red Cross Türkiye-Syria earthquake fund would help to swiftly address both the immediate and long-term impacts of the earthquakes.
“The impact of the disaster in these countries is heartbreaking with the humanitarian needs on the ground being high – something we expect only to increase as the full scale of destruction caused is identified,” Mr Mathieson said.
“We really appreciate the sentiment of people providing in-kind donations however we’ll be supporting the operation with funding and specialist human resource support.”
Mr Mathieson said the distribution of physical goods such as food and clothing was a “very complex, costly and time-consuming process”, which was why donating money was preferable.
Regional community rallies
The Goulburn Valley Turkish community has been quick to collect donations to send to earthquake victims. The overseas disaster comes just months after the Goulburn Valley’s disastrous flooding, and the local community is still in recovery. Within hours of the earthquake news breaking, the Goulburn Valley Turkish Islamic Cultural Centre and Mosque in Mooroopna began organising emergency relief.
The mosque’s Iman Recep Ay said they had been overwhelmed by the community’s generosity. He said financial assistance was the best way for people to help. “Due to Australia being so far away, sending shipping containers is hard,” he said.
“There are a lot of organisations that have come together that are providing all of the essentials with the financial support we are sending over.”
Many people were prepared to fly over to Türkiye to assist, however after communications with the Turkish consulate it became clear the region was unable to accept volunteers, only professionals.
“We decided if it’s ruled out that we can’t travel overseas and physically help ourselves, let’s put together essential items to send out in shipping containers,” Mr Ay said.
Community member Ebru Bolat said the mosque had accepted donations of tents, waterproof sleeping bags, pillows, and nappies. “With the help of a lot of small organisations in Melbourne and across our region we’ve been able to fill two shipping containers,” Ms Bolat said.
Türkiye’s harsh winter conditions mean shelter and warmth are essential, Mr Ay says. “To be able to use a blanket as a resourceful item we need to have a tent protecting them from the snow,” he said. “The weather conditions in Türkiye aren’t the best at the moment.”
Both Mr Ay and Ms Bolat have family in Türkiye and have been finding it difficult to contact them. “Everyone was in panic mode over there,” Ms Bolat said. “The first thing that comes to mind is not to pick up your phone to post on social media or let a family member from Australia know you are safe.”
Mr Ay says the Turkish community in the Goulburn Valley is very strong. “During these times it is in our nature to come together and to provide and give and do as much as we can,” he said. “We’d just like to say a big thank you to everyone from Australia and across the world, but most definitely we have a great community here in the Goulburn Valley.
The death toll from the earthquake has passed 20,000 and is expected to rise.