Batlow family on the path to rebuilding

Steven Bellchambers in a shipping container pod on his property, donated earlier this year by GIVIT and the Brumbies Rugby Bushfire Appeal.

A Yass woman has started a fundraiser for the Bellchambers family in Batlow, hoping to help them raise money to go towards rebuilding their family home that was destroyed during the Black Summer bushfires.

Adrienne Steward coordinated the Yass Bushfire Relief Centre in January this year and first met the Bellchambers family when doing some drop-offs to Batlow.

A neighbour put her in touch with the family and she took them food, supplies and clothing, also helping them get set up in temporary accommodation.

Ms Steward has kept in touch with the family and said they left a big impression on her.

“They’re one of the most beautiful families I’ve ever met,” she said.

“The kids are so well mannered and just down to the earth, salt of the earth kind of people.”

Steve Bellchambers and Adrienne Steward.

The Bellchambers’ house was completely destroyed during the bushfires, and their property was heavily affected.

Not only was the house lost, but also machinery, sheds, vehicles, fences, some livestock and their contracting business.

The family was recently contacted by a company who have offered to build them an eco-friendly home mostly at-cost, however additional funding is needed to cover the difference.

One of the biggest positives of the home is that it would allow the Bellchambers to meet the requirements of having foster children.

“At the moment, our budget will go as far as doing a very basic shed home which makes it a little bit harder with the kids, because having the foster kids you have to have a separate room each,” Steve Bellchambers said.

The family has four children and two permanent foster kids, and might want to take on more in the future.

Mr Bellchambers has a conservationist line in his family, so having a home with little-to-no carbon emissions is also a huge bonus for the family.

The home – which is priced at the equivalent of a regular home, Mr Bellchambers said –  would also have fire-proofing elements, made with material that is “extremely hard to combust” and a misting system that would be activated if a fire was in the area.

“Nothing’s ever 100 per cent fireproof, but what it does is it offers far greater resistance,” Mr Bellchambers said.

He said that overall, the recovery process this year has been going well but “very, very long.”

“Romantically, everybody would hope that they’re back in their homes within six months, but clearly that’s not the case,” Mr Bellchambers said.

The family was able to get some money through insurance; however, they were only insured for about one third of what they lost.

“Because the issue is not so much whether you have insurance or not, but what you can afford to insure,” Mr Bellchambers explained.

“When you lose all your fencing and some stock and all of your business stuff, house, you don’t normally assume you’re going to lose it all in one hit.”

Steve Bellchambers stands on the site prepared for his new home near Batlow. His family’s home was destroyed during the Dunns Road fire last summer.

Mr Bellchambers said he and other parties are in the very early stages of planning a community building for Batlow and, like with his own home, he wants to focus on not just rebuilding but building back better.

“We need to and want to deliver something that benefits the community and is better than what was here before,” he said.

“If we just replace what we had then we’re not actually taking advantage of a disadvantaged situation.”

He said the family is very grateful for the support they’re receiving, especially from Ms Steward in the form of the fundraiser.

“Adrienne’s really the type of person that you know is genuine,” Mr Bellchambers said.

“Having someone like that who’s considerate of other people’s needs and dreams and just wanting to help them make that [happen] is awesome.”

Ms Steward said she started the fundraiser because the Bellchambers “do so much for the community in Batlow and surrounds.”

“I know the return on investment for the community will definitely be there,” she said.

If you would like to support the family, the fundraiser can be accessed via GoFundMe.

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