Australian Bushfire Support and Resources for Parents

Redeemer Lutheran College is deeply saddened by the bushfires that have been sweeping across our country in the recent weeks and months, and our heart goes out to all those affected. 

Bushfire Appeals

The College has been made aware of a number of very worthwhile appeals which which we encourage you to support where possible.

Red Cross 

The Red Cross is supporting thousands of people in evacuation centres in Victoria and New South Wales.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army offers a range of services including financial assistance, emotional wellbeing and support services and information, referrals and advice for those in need.

Lutheran Church of Australia Disaster & Welfare Fund

To help Lutherans and the communities they are supporting with immediate assistance and then, later, post-emergency restorative support, you can donate to the LCA Disaster & Welfare Fund (tax-deductible).

St Vincent de Paul Society

Vinnies is on the ground helping people as they deal with the immediate aftermath of fires, and we will continue to be there as they rebuild their lives in the long term.

WIRES

Australia's largest wildlife rescue organisation has launched an emergency fund to help rescue injured and displaced animals.

World Wildlife Fund

WWF Australia is raising money to help restore homes for the koalas when the fires have cleared. More than 2000 koalas have perished in NSW alone.

Firefighters

Donations made directly to the NSW RFS, Victorian CFA or South Australian CFS are for the benefit of volunteer brigades and can help provide extra resources for firefighters and volunteers on the ground protecting homes and lives.

Victorian Bushfire Appeal

This appeal was launched by the Victorian government in coordination with the Bendigo Bank’s Community Enterprise Foundation and the Salvation Army.

South Australia Recovery Donations

The South Australian State Emergency Relief Fund (SERF) is independent of government and is responsible for the fair distribution of 100% of the funds to those most in need.

Kangaroo Island Relief and Recovery Bushfire Donations

Foodbank

Cash donations are preferable, but the organisation is also accepting good-quality tinned food (with ring pull), UHT milk, and items that are easy to "grab and go" like muesli bars, cereals, biscuits and pantry staples. Foodbank is accepting donations via their Brisbane Morningside warehouse from 7.00am until 3.00pm Monday through Friday only.

Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund

GERF was set up in 1978 to help Gippsland locals recover from natural disaster. The charity is calling for cash donations.

Helping your children cope during the Australian Bushfires disaster

Some families may know of people that have been directly affected by the bushfires, but most children will have been exposed to many images on television that can affect them to different degrees. No doubt it will be a hot topic of conversation in the playground when school returns. 

As you talk with your children, and aim to help them process and understand this significant disaster, the following tips may be of use: 

  • Remember that children respond to situations in different ways, depending on factors such as their temperament, prior experiences, etc. Similarly, children may vary in their capacity or preparedness to communicate how they are feeling. 
  • Adults need to avoid fuelling children’s anxiety, but also should not overprotect them or avoid the topic. 
  • Children like certainty, predictability and stability – the earliest possible return to routine, the better. 
  • Children need calm and reassuring adults. Their security comes from knowing there are adults who care and will look after them. The way in which children see adults responding to situations can have a significant impact on their levels of anxiety. 
  • Be available to talk – tune in to what children are saying and asking (you may have to ask some questions yourself to understand the thinking and concerns behind the child’s question), and use their questions as your guide as to what to talk about; don’t burden them with information they are not cognitively or emotionally ready for. Respect that some children will not wish to talk about this disaster, or their experiences. 
  • Children may be anxious about the possibility of a similar disaster happening in their local area  – acknowledge the child’s concern and emotions, thank them for choosing to talk with an adult about it, and provide appropriate reassurance (eg. the commitment of key adults in taking care of them, the expertise of weather and bushfire experts, warning systems, preventative actions of councils, etc). 
  • Acknowledge children’s feelings, pain and anxiety when they talk about the disaster. 
  • Emphasise resilience and optimism/hope for the future, both in terms of individuals affected and whole communities – talk about how people will go on, rebuild and heal. 
  • Maintain open communication with parents of children for whom you have concern – share information and be prepared to suggest specialist counselling if required. 
  • Finding ways for children to help (constructive action) following a disaster can help them cope with situations that can seem overwhelming.

Additional Resources for Parents

Message from LCA Bishop, John Henderson

Bushfires are ravaging large parts of Australia. We are shocked by this early and ferocious fire season, which already started many weeks ago.

The LCA doesn't have a centralised system to gather information on individual situations, but I have heard of some property losses among members of our church, yet thankfully no loss of human life. Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones during the fires, or who are in hospital or injured. I am sure that many people in our church are offering support and care wherever that is needed.

As I write this message, the crisis is not over. Fires are still burning, some out of control. Many people are not yet able to return to their homes, farms and other businesses. Holiday makers remain cut off, and coastal communities are being supplied by airlift and boat. Thick smoke blankets parts of the country, including the national capital, much of the NSW South Coast and east Gippsland in Victoria. It has even spread across the Tasman to New Zealand. This is an evolving situation, and we admire those who battle on the front line, the fire fighters and emergency service personnel, who brave great danger and endure waves of exhaustion as they serve. Both regulars and volunteers, local, interstate and international, they demonstrate the true value and strength of human communities when they are at their best.

The LCA has some financial reserves for disaster recovery, and you can donate to those funds. We will soon release information on how to do that. The money will be used to help local communities in their recovery. Our congregations and Districts will play a key role in planning how that will be done. Right now, as we face the immediate crisis, the emergency response is in the hands of governments and those whom they appoint to the task, and these people and agencies need our encouragement, prayer and support.

What we can always do, apart from caring for those in affected communities, is pray. I know our church is already doing that. 

God bless you in this New Year, with all the challenges and the promises it brings.

In Christ, 

Pastor John Henderson 
Bishop, Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand 

1st January 2020

Prayer

Loving God, we come to you trusting in your mercy and knowing that your steadfast love lasts forever. Look with mercy on those who harmed or displaced by the current bushfires.

Give all victims of this disaster your strength to meet the challenges of the days, weeks and months ahead. May they feel your peace, which surpasses all understanding. May they feel renewed hope for restoration and rebuilding.

Move in those who are able to help, that we may be your heart and hands on Earth. Be with all who offer assistance; may your Spirit uphold them.

You have made water a sign of cleansing and rebirth in you, earthquake a sign of your power, and fire a symbol of your Spirit. So grant us vision to see new life on the other side of disasters.

Help us to find ways to praise you even in the midst of disasters. Through Jesus Christ, your dear Son. Amen

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