Wellbeing

Do the Survivors of the Victorian Bush fires still need your help?

There has been an unprecedented response by everyone to the Victorian Bushfires during the month following that awful day of Saturday 7 February 2009.
Whilst the aid agencies swung into action, and they did what they do best, and the State and Federal governments put their disaster planning into action and the Red Cross appeal raised more than $200 million is the job done? Have we done enough? Is it just money that will solve the biggest peacetime crisis we have ever had to face?

Can we be confident that the Victorian community will embrace those who lost their homes and all their possessions, will we look after those who saved their homes but lost much of their towns and have we done enough to share the burden of returning these people to happy healthy productive lives?

Liz Tilley who lost her home in the 2003 Canberra fires urges us all to recognise that the surviving victims need both physical and emotional support. Importantly what people need, changes over time. The first weeks after the fire people need clothes, food and temporary accommodation and help with the immediate trauma. Over the coming months and then the next few years they need to reconstruct their lives. That’s the hard part and our community can make the difference ensuring that these families, the Mums, Dads, brothers and sisters have happy healthy productive lives. For those that don’t recover from this disaster we will all pay a heavy price for decades.

Winter is coming. Liz Tilley again reminds us “I distinctly remember the day the weather suddenly turned cold in Canberra and no-one in the family had a warm top to wear”. We know from the evening news that fire survivors have received immediate assistance in the form of cash and gift vouchers from charitable organisations and government for clothes and other necessities but a month after the fires we need to remember that every day this week these survivors are confronted with the harsh fact that there is something they needed today that they no longer own.

If your home and all its contents was burnt to the ground would your insurance pay for everything that was destroyed? In the areas worst affected by the fires many people have sheds and stables and to their horror are finding out that their home and contents policy doesn’t cover the ride on mower, the motor bikes, the garden tools… And that’s just talking about people who thought they were adequately covered by insurance. There are many who were under insured and those who had no insurance at all.

I was really touched when survivors have told me that their most treasured items are the ones that were made, with love, by complete strangers.  “The quilt that was one of the hundreds that arrived from all over Australia, the hand-knitted rugs that my children like to snuggle under in winter.”

Donations of PCs and other Equipment

The computer industry has the inventory to provide unsold equipment from the sales channel and other equipment up to two years old to provide the people who have lost most of their possessions with a vital tool for their new homes. Donate 1, 10 or 25 PCs now click here.

Buddy systems

People need people. The stress of installing a new PC can overcome the best of us. For those who find computers difficult the thought of getting a computer working and connected for their children to do their home work and to have the internet to search for all the products and services they need to replace what the fire destroyed must be truly daunting. In Victoria there are over 30,000 people who work in the computer industry – wouldn’t it be wonderful if the 2,029 families who lost their homes could access a computer buddy to help them through this stressful process of installing and connecting a PC. Volunteer to become a “computer buddy” now by clicking here.