Rev Dr Stephen Robinson, national disaster recovery officer with the Uniting Church in Australia, visited WA’s south west in late January to help local Uniting Church congregations and members work out strategies that will best help people affected by serious fires in the area.
Two people lost their lives in Yarloop when fires destroyed most of the town and threatened areas around Harvey and Waroona. While there is no Uniting Church congregation in Yarloop, congregations in surrounding areas will be offering support to those affected.
Stephen said that recovery is a long-term process. While other agencies are best at assisting as crisis hits, the Uniting Church is committed to, and well resourced, to help with long-term recovery, which could take two to three years.
“That community will never quite look the same,” Stephen said. “Recovery is about, not restoring it to what it was, it’s about making something new that’s healthy, functional, vibrant and where people want to be.”
In the meantime, Stephen said people can help those affected in a number of ways, but not to send donations of goods or clothing as it cripples the community who is left to deal with the sorting. People do however need donations of money, which can be given through a number of official appeals, including through the Uniting Church.
Stephen also suggests keeping in touch with congregations in the area who may be needing volunteers in the months down the track as they begin offering services to affected communities.
Donate to the Uniting Church WA Disaster Relief Fund at any Westpac Branch, BSB: 036 001 Account: 921789. Account name: Uniting Church Investment Fund. Email email@example.com with the details of your donation.
Alternatively, send cheques or money orders to: The Disaster Relief Fund Uniting Church in Australia GPO Box M952 Perth WA 6843. Attention: Gillian Dudley/Lyn Boorn.