The 2019/20 Australian Bushfires devastated an estimated 18.6 million hectares of land and more than 2570 homes around Australia. In addition, the bushfires have destroyed thousands of buildings and left some towns without electricity, mobile coverage, and essential infrastructure. Most tragically 29 people, including a number of fire-fighters, have lost their lives in this national disaster.
In November 2019, Anglican Relief and Development Fund Australia (ARDFA) launched an Emergency Bushfire Appeal. We are grateful for the generous support of individuals, organisations, businesses and churches in supporting bushfire affected communities through us.
ARDFA has been quick to send funds to families and relief workers in NSW, Victoria and South Australia. Partnering with local parishes, dioceses and on-the-ground Anglican relief agencies, ARDFA is giving emergency relief and aid to areas in need. Financial assistance has been sent to the dioceses of Grafton, Newcastle, Gippsland, Wangaratta and The Murray, and the parishes of Coffs Harbour, Taree, Mount Barker, Cann River (Mallacoota) and Kangaroo Island.
Fires in the East Gippsland and Victoria’s North East went on for days:
“Having funds in hand to rapidly deploy is a great comfort to our clergy and people who are responding (or preparing to respond) to such critical incidents.” Rt. Rev. Richard Treloar, Bishop of Gippsland.
In Kangaroo Island in South Australia, fire has burnt more than half the island, around 200,000 hectares of land:
“Thank you again for this blessing. We will make sure it is used well for bushfire relief.” Rev. Brad Henly, rector of the parish of Kangaroo Island, South Australia.
We partner with local churches, as they are connected to the community and can assess and deliver aid in a cost effective, strategic way. They are also there in the long run, to work alongside the community as they pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives. As well as giving physical assistance, parish ministers and workers give emotional and spiritual support to those whose lives have been impacted by loss and trauma.
In Mallacoota, Victoria, where people fleeing the fire were trapped by the water and had to be dramatically evacuated by a naval ship, the parish minister, the Rev. Jude Benton (pictured below leading a Sunday service to evacuees), is only paid half time. Due to the losses in this area, she is likely to be working hard six days a week for months to come. In nearby Bairnsdale, Victoria, the relief centres, such as St. John’s Anglican parish, were placed under a lot of strain, coping with the great need of those evacuated to that regional centre.
ARDFA is also sending appeal funds direct to relief organisations such as Anglicare and the Samaritans (the social services arm of the Diocese of Newcastle) who have Disaster Recovery Teams stationed in the Hunter Valley, the Mid & Central Coast of NSW in partnership with Chaplaincy Australia, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross.
While government funding and other appeals will direct funds mainly towards physical recovery costs, ARDFA recognises the essential services of emergency chaplains. By supporting the work of Disaster Recovery Chaplain Services, we acknowledge the importance of of integrating relief, compassion and faith. Chaplains and pastoral carers are motivated by Christ’s love and seek to provide for the community’s physical, social, spiritual and emotional needs.
While ARDFA gives aid through Christian networks, the assistance they provide serves the community at large, regardless of religion.
By supporting ARDFA’s emergency bushfire appeal you have brought a great blessing to many people facing one of the hardest times in their lives.
Thank you for your support and partnership. Please continue to pray for those affected and those who work to give aid and relief and pastoral care. Recovery will take time, please consider how you and your organisation can fundraise to multiply your support.
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