Bushfire Recovery Appeal

The 2016/17 bushfire season is already well underway, with devastating fires in New South Wales. Last Summer also saw disasterous fires in Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria.

From our experience of supporting other communities recovery from fires, floods and cyclones, we know support will be needed for many, many years to come: it can take 10 years for communities to fully recover. We try to be there to support them on that journey, as needs evolve.

Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint

After a natural disaster, it takes time for people to work through their immediate needs, and find the head space to take on new challenges beyond just surviving day to day. For the first 12-18 months, people usually focus on themselves and their immediate family – cleaning up; rebuilding or repairing their home; replacing livestock; maintaining their livelihood; and just living day to day.

It’s only once those things are stable that local leaders begin to think about the gaps in their community. They will need help to face challenges, such as:

  • Increased anxiety and difficulties with transitions and milestones for children and young people
  • Significant non-acute mental health issues, as well as more serious issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder in people who may not seek help through traditional means
  • Repairing or enhancing local community infrastructure,(such as community halls where many recovery activities occur), local coordination and strengthening social capital
  • Re-creating a sense of local identity, and re-establishing the economic base
  • Enhancing disaster preparedness and ensuring they are more ready for future disasters
  • Supporting vulnerable and isolated members of communities, who can be deeply affected but hard to reach in the longer term
  • Fatigued local community volunteers who have limited capacity and are potentially ill-equipped to coordinate the recovery effort

But all too often the funds are gone, or money that remains is tied up and can only be used for ‘emergency relief’. Post-disaster support needs to be flexible enough to respond to changing needs, and be available when communities are ready to look forward.

Support for communities, when they need it

That’s why FRRR is fundraising now, so support will be available to those communities when they need it in 12-18 months - and with enough flexibility to support them in the way that is best suited to their specific needs.

For some, that will be to repair community meeting places or local infrastructure like walking trails and tourism infrastructure; others will need to come together and talk about what they've experienced or express their feelings through art and craft. And of course, there is the effect on children who may need extra support to help them articulate how they feel about what has happened, or simply reduce the financial hardship after a disaster through funding for uniforms, text books and other basics.

Please lend your support - every donation over $2 is tax deductible and goes directly to communities in need.

What our Disaster Recovery Grant recipients say:

The funding came at a crucial time when volunteers were starting to lose their initial enthusiasm.

The project has improved the state of repair of the two prominent buildings in [the town]. The work has generated a great deal of discussion and an improvement in the community’s care for the buildings. I now conduct tours of the venues and tell the story of the fires, the memorials and the highlights of the peaceful rural tranquillity near the river.

The event has strengthened community connectedness in disaster affected communities both locally… and across [the State]. It celebrated the growth of community music making as a powerful force in strengthening communities and rebuilding disaster affected communities. Opportunities have increased for volunteerism and civic participation, locally, regionally and state-wide.

The youth of [the area] are better connected and supporting resulting in improved wellbeing, increased participation in community activities, improved community networks.

The project has contributed to the wellbeing of the community by providing paid staff to assist the groups and relieve the administration burden.

I think that by providing funds for projects that were identified by the communities once the smoke had cleared, they could be directed towards projects that had long-term benefit and in doing so they probably met the needs of the communities.

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