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Our response to the bushfires: 24 Jan 2020

Learn what Red Cross is doing to support communities affected by this summer's bushfires and how your donations are helping.

Red Cross volunteer Janet with Club Terrace resident Matt outside Bairnsdale relief centre. Read Matt’s story below. Photo: Australian Red Cross


Red Cross teams have been:

  • supporting people at evacuation, relief and recovery centres
  • registering people’s locations so their loved ones can contact them
  • providing psychosocial first aid to reduce trauma and distress
  • providing food, water and relief items to people cut off by fires in Victoria
  • conducting welfare checks on the phone and in person
  • providing $10,000 emergency grants to people who homes have been destroyed by bushfires. As of this morning, $8.2 million has gone to people whose homes have been destroyed. Currently, we’re getting a million dollars out the door each day
  • providing $20,000 bereavement payments to next of kin of people who have died as a result of the bushfires
  • conducting psychosocial needs assessments in some of the affected communities
  • creating a tailored recovery plan to support families and communities for the next three years or more

In Victoria, more than 1,245 Red Cross personnel have been involved in the response supporting affected communities.

They have provided psychosocial first aid to over 14,240 people at relief and recovery centres, registered more than 29,800 people through Register.Find.Reunite. and supported 18 isolated communities in the East Gippsland region.

They have also supported 495 people evacuated from Mallacoota to stay in relief centres. Red Cross was the only community organisation present in Mallacoota before, during and after the fires reached the community.

Our teams are providing psychosocial first aid for residents returning to Mallacoota and on Thursday volunteers accompanied 10 mothers and children from the town as they made an emotional return home.

Currently, Red Cross teams are supporting people at one relief centre and two information/recovery hubs. They also starting recovery planning focusing on the human impacts of the fires.

In New South Wales, more than 650 Red Cross personnel have been involved in the response and since early November have provided support to people at more than 87 evacuation centres (all are now closed).

However, with fires again threatening parts of NSW and the ACT our teams are supporting people at three evacuation centres that have opened in the last few days.

Red Cross teams are currently supporting people at four disaster welfare points, making regular visits to communities in Bega and undertaking psychosocial recovery needs assessments in the most-affected communities. We have registered more than 19,750 people through Register.Find.Reunite.

Red Cross is also working with the State Government to develop an extensive recovery program.

Since the start of the 2019/20 summer more than 400 Red Cross personnel have been involved in our response in South Australia.

Currently, they are supporting people at the Lobethal Recovery Hub in the Adelaide Hills and the newly opened King Island Recovery Centre in Parndana on Kangaroo Island.

Teams are also supporting people at a community-led hub at the Western Districts Sports Club in Goose – here they have provided psychosocial first aid to more than 700 people.

They are also providing psychosocial first aid training to children’s services staff, volunteers and the public and conducting recovery outreach in person and over the phone for the Adelaide Hills fires. Outreach started on Kangaroo Island this week and as of yesterday teams had visited 60 properties.

In South Australia, we have registered more than 7,750 people through Register.Find.Reunite.

Earlier Red Cross teams supported people at five relief centres, including 500 people who went to the Kingscote Relief Centre during the Kangaroo Island fires.

In Western Australia, our teams are currently checking on the wellbeing of 226 households in the Seatrees and Breakwater estates and visiting people affected by the Yanchep-Two Ricks-Gingin fires in December.

They are also supporting our Victorian team with recovery planning and to make outreach phone calls to Mallacoota residents.

Since December 2019 we have registered more than 980 people through Register.Find.Reunite. including currently the Baldivis fire.

Donations have been powering our response to the bushfires since they began in September

Read about the next part of our plan and how we will use the generous donations we have received to support affected communities.

This week in numbers

  • Supported people at 110 evacuation and relief centres and recovery and information hubs since July

  • Responded to more than 20 bushfires since July

  • More than 2,500 volunteers and staff deployed since July

Red Cross emergency grants are open to people whose homes have been destroyed in the bushfires

Thanks to the generosity of the Australian community and beyond, we’ve been able to increase grants to $10,000

A letter from our CEO, Judy Slatyer

“None of this is normal. The social, economic and environmental impact is going to be incomprehensible, threatening much that is unique and special about who we are, and the nature we share this country with.”

It sounded like one hundred jets

Matt’s home in the remote town of Club Terrace was his slice of paradise. He tried to save it but the fire was too big and too hot. Within minutes the home he had spent 10 years working on was gone.

A sweet approach

Clara and Lola delivered their donation for Red Cross' Disaster Relief and Recovery fund in a small box - $520, raised at a bake sale in their local street.

Australia, the world is thinking of us ...

This is one of a special batch of letters we received all the way from Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City primary school teacher Christine and her students discussed the bushfires, what they’d seen on the news, and how they felt. The students decided to write letters of support to everyone affected by the fires. Thank you so much to Christine and her class for your beautiful and thoughtful words.

Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund

Your donation helps Red Cross give people the support they need in disasters, whenever and wherever they happen.


More on the Emergency Services blog

Climate Changed Me

My name is Peg Fraser. I’m a historian and an Australian Red Cross volunteer, and this is my story.

Australian Bushfires

Report: January 2020–June 2021

Mt Beauty’s journey of resilience

After 2020’s devastating bushfires, the community of Mt Beauty has come together to recover – and get better prepared for the next disaster.