President launches National Cyclone Relief Appeal

President of the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA), Rev Prof Andrew Dutney has today launched a national appeal to assist communities hit by cyclones.

Cyclone Lam struck Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory on 20 February causing extensive damage to homes and public buildings. Sixty dwellings were left uninhabitable and there was extensive damage to the natural environment.

On the same day Cyclone Marcia battered the Queensland coast from Yeppoon to Rockhampton. Wind damage caused property and crop losses just before annual harvests with flooding affecting areas as far inland as Biloela.

Currently, there are also cyclones of concern in Queensland and northern Western Australia.

“We are very concerned for the communities affected by these disasters. Please join me in praying for the church in these areas too – for their safety and recovery, and for their service and witness to their neighbours in need after the cyclones,” said Andrew.

“I encourage UCA members wherever they are to do what they can to support our brothers and sisters in this time of need.”

President-elect and moderator of the Northern Synod, Stuart McMillan, said the damage across Aboriginal communities had been widespread.

“Cyclone Lam hit Gapuwiyak, Ramingining and Milingimbi. These already under-resourced communities need our support – pastorally and practically – to recover and rebuild.”

Rev Dr Stephen Robinson, the National Disaster Recovery Officer has been on the ground at Elcho Island and in Central Queensland, working with members of the Northern Synod and the Central Queensland Presbytery.

“I’ve seen the damage first hand and there has been not only destruction of buildings, but considerable personal losses as well.”

“Funds from the President’s appeal will go to providing direct financial support and targeted recovery programs to people in the worst-hit areas.”

“It’s going to take a long time before life gets back to normal. Your donations will help the Uniting Church be alongside these communities at the time they most need our support,” said Stephen.

Contributions to the President’s Cyclone Appeal can be made on the Assembly website through the National Disaster Relief Fund http://assembly.uca.org.au/donate. Donations of $2 and over are tax-deductible.

Image taken by Rev Dr Stephen Robinson at Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island, 26 February 2015.

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