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Our response to the bushfires: 30 Jan 2020

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

Kim Smart, whose Kangaroo Island home was destroyed, with Red Cross’ Mary Hajistassi. We have supported Kim through psychosocial first aid and with an emergency cash grant. Photo: Australian Red Cross/Aysha Leo

Snapshot

Red Cross teams have been supporting hundreds of residents and tourists returning to Mallacoota for the first time since being evacuated earlier this month.

Our volunteers, whose role was to provide emotional support, accompanied some 350 people aboard Air Force flights over the long weekend. They were returning to the Victorian town to collect their cars, caravans and boats, reunite with friends and process what they had been through.

Red Cross teams have also been calling and visiting people in areas such as Corryong in Victoria, Bega in New South Wales and Lobethal in South Australia. They are supporting people at evacuation centres in New South Wales and the ACT and helping out at the Parndana recovery centre on Kangaroo Island, South Australia.

This week our voluntary advisory panel met to help make decisions on how best to use the funds we have raised to help people recover.

To date we have provided more than 1,180 emergency grants each worth $10,000 (totalling $11.8 million) to people who homes have been destroyed by bushfires. We are distributing about $1 million per day in grants.

We are also providing $20,000 bereavement payments to next of kin of people who died as a result of the bushfires.

What we have been doing by state

In Victoria, more than 1,320 Red Cross personnel have been involved in the response supporting 14,490 people across the state.

Currently our teams are focused on providing psychosocial first aid to people returning to Mallacoota and supporting those at the town’s relief centre, as well as recovery planning, focussing on the human impacts of the fires.

They have also been providing support at the Corryong Recovery Centre, the Bairnsdale Information Centre and conducting other outreach activities in both areas. Along with that they are part of a mobile recovery service in Mallacoota, Cabbage Tree Creek and Bemm River.

To date we have worked in 15 relief centres where we provided psychological first aid to more than 2,500 people and have also registered more than 29,870 people through Register.Find.Reunite.

Over the summer our teams have supported 18 isolated communities in the East Gippsland region and 495 people evacuated from Mallacoota. Red Cross is the only community organisation that has been present in Mallacoota before, during and after the fires.

In New South Wales, so far more than 750 Red Cross personnel have been involved in the response.

With extreme fire conditions forecast this weekend our teams are currently working at evacuation centres that have opened in Bega, Bermagui, Narooma, Moruya and Canberra. More than 90 centres have been opened across NSW since 7 November.

Many of the people impacted by the bushfires so far live in the mountain forested areas with limited internet and road access. Red Cross volunteers are part of multiple agency mobile community outreach teams that have been visiting areas including the Mid North Coast, the Snowy Mountains, Hawkesbury, Lithgow and the Southern Highlands.

Outreach is planned for this weekend to Far North Coast communities which have not yet been visited because of limited access and dangerous conditions.

As well our teams are currently supporting people at three relief centres and four disaster welfare points. They are making weekly outreach visits to communities in Bega, undertaking psychosocial recovery needs assessments in the most-affected communities and working with the NSW State Government to develop an extensive recovery program.

To date we have registered more than 23,420 people through Register.Find.Reunite.

In South Australia, more than 430 Red Cross personnel have been involved in our response supporting affected communities this summer.

Our teams are currently supporting people at the Lobethal Recovery Hub in the Adelaide Hills and at the King Island Recovery Centre in Parndana on Kangaroo Island.

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 and Kangaroo Island fires. We are involved in recovery operations for communities in Cudlee Creek, Kangaroo Island and the Yorke Penninsula.

To date we have registered more than 8,220 people through Register.Find.Reunite.

Earlier Red Cross supported people at five relief centres, including for 500 people who evacuated to the Kingscote Relief Centre because of the Kangaroo Island fires.

In Western Australia, Red Cross teams currently continue to check on people’s wellbeing in the Seatrees and Breakwater estates and visit people affected by the Yanchep-Two Ricks-Gingin fires in December.

As well, they are supporting our Victorian team with recovery planning and also to make outreach phone calls to Mallacoota residents

Since December 2019 we have registered 989 people through Register.Find.Reunite., including the current Norseman Complex fires.

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 62,450 people registered through Register.Find.Reunite

  • More than 2,750 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

Independent experts join Red Cross’ drive to support bushfire communities

We have engaged four independent and pro bono emergency relief experts to bolster efforts to meet the needs of people impacted by bushfires.

Recovery takes time

Living through the Black Saturday bushfires at Kinglake in 2009 taught Anne Leadbeater what it takes to recover from a disaster. Now she offers some timely advice.

Reaching out to fire-affected communities: our volunteers go home to home

Red Cross volunteer Kacey Lam gives this first-hand account of outreach visits to people recovering after the fires.

Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund

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More on the Emergency Services blog

Helping people pick up the pieces in bushfire-hit Batemans Bay

Red Cross volunteer and Batemans Bay local Lin Barnes knows it will take time for people to recover from the Black Summer bushfires.

First aid ups fire-fighters’ skills

How fire-fighters are using first aid and mental health first aid taught by Red Cross to help during this season’s devastating bushfires.

The best of humanity in the worst of times

When a disaster like the Black Summer bushfires strike some wonderful people step in to help, says long-time Red Cross volunteer Sally Dowse.