Thank you for your concern for our fellow Australians affected by the devastating fires currently ravaging across the country. Our hearts and thoughts go out to everyone impacted. We are grateful to the thousands of selfless, dedicated, highly trained emergency services personnel working tirelessly to respond to these disasters as well as the countless volunteers working behind the scenes.
If you are in a fire-affected area please look after the safety of yourself and your family, friends, neighbours and local community first.
At this time
At this time the best action you can take is to stop and listen to and follow the directions of trusted sources including authorities. They will let you know how to stay safe and what the best course of action is both now and going forward.
Volunteering is a very good way to help in times of need, but it is important for you to be mindful to always stop and listen first. This will ensure the right help is given at the right time in the right place.
Many individuals, families and communities impacted by the disasters are still coming to terms with their loss and are not ready for outside help. Many volunteer-organisations working in disaster recovery have not yet been approached to help. Currently it is still not possible to access some fire affected areas due to high levels of health and safety risk.
The activation of our crisis-ready, skilled and dedicated Australian Defence Force Reservists is also making a huge difference providing critical, coordinated on the ground help at this beginning stage of recovery and going forward.
Relief and recovery assistance
While all offers of assistance are appreciated, there is a need to balance these with the needs and readiness to request recovery assistance of those impacted by the fires and also the volunteer-involving organisations that are working to coordinate, respond to and set up recovery operations.
Recovery and rebuilding are most effective when coordinated through local and experienced volunteer and community organisations responding to requests for help from impacted individuals and communities and with the knowledge of local Councils. Volunteers provide an essential workforce for this recovery and rebuilding, which will be long-term.
During times of crisis it is natural to feel a compelling urge to help. With the extent of the devastation our country has experienced in recent months, we have been overwhelmed with offers of assistance to volunteer and to donate money, goods and services.
Here’s how you can support those impacted by the destructive fires:
- Check in on family, friends, neighbours and your local community and look after yourself first.
- Consider volunteering for volunteer-involving organisations in your local community that will support the long recovery and rebuilding process. Your help will be needed when the immediate danger has past and affected individuals and communities are ready to ask for and receive assistance. By volunteering locally you strengthen your own, your community’s, and our nation’s connectedness, resilience, and disaster capability and preparedness.
- Refer to trusted sources, including local councils and formally recognised emergency services agencies. Their websites and social media provide essential, up-to-date information on the disaster situation and when, where and what help is needed.
- If you have pre-registered as an emergency volunteer with Volunteering Victoria or a similar organisation in another state, for now please wait; you may be contacted if and when needed. Recovery is long-term and determined by the needs and readiness of those impacted by the disaster.
- Donate money to a national, state or local authorised, recognised disaster support agency. These vary from state to state.
- If you wish to pledge donation of goods, you can do so on the Givit website.
Thank you for your concern and care for those currently experiencing displacement, loss and pain. Their safety and well-being comes first and a coordinated response best serves their immediate and longer-term needs.
Above all at this time we all need to put the needs and readiness of affected communities to accept help first, and we need to keep the volunteering ethos alive and healthy in Australia.
For further information about volunteering at times of disaster, please continue to explore this website - Volunteering Queensland’s EV CREW: emergencyvolunteering.com.au
Volunteering Victoria is working with Volunteering Queensland to ensure any requests for emergency recovery volunteers are coordinated and responsive. Victorian residents who register to volunteer may receive communications and updates from Volunteering Queensland and Emergency Volunteering.
Picture: Nigel Hallett