The bushfire events over the New Year have affected all of us deeply.
These are our communities. Many of us live and work there, have family in these areas, or have other personal connections. We have a long history together of building the capacity of individuals and families and being a source of support at difficult times, across Victoria and Tasmania and into New South Wales.
We are already part of the local community response in many areas, providing material aid in association with local partners through our existing emergency relief services. This disaster, like many before it, will take its toll on the most vulnerable in our communities. Not only are they selflessly supporting those directly affected. They will also have to deal with the compounding effects of disadvantage immediately and into the future.
The overall community response has been wonderful, but we are aware that there are gaps or unmet needs emerging in material aid. For example, it became clear over the weekend in Gippsland there were plenty of toiletries for women, but not the right things for men, and children and young people required underwear. To help cover these gaps, we have launched a Uniting Bushfire Appeal.
As these local needs will be very different across the fire-affected areas and will continue to change, we are encouraging people to donate money that we can then use to quickly respond to whatever is needed.
The impact of these bushfires and the devastation they have caused will be felt in these communities for years. We will be working locally in the coming weeks and months to understand how best we can support recovery in these communities once the immediate crisis is over. That is why our appeal is also calling for donations to support longer term relief and recovery efforts.
We are committed to working with communities to heal after these traumatic events. We will be there long after the cameras have moved on to the next issue, to make sure that people receive the support they need to recover, however long that takes.
Chief Executive Officer