“… the generous person devises generous things, and his generosity will keep him standing.”
In the last week we have seen rain fall in many regions, cities and towns in our country: rain that we as a nation have been praying for, for many months. This rain, has certainly helped to quench some parts of the scorched and fire-ravaged land and we are thanking God for it but we continue to pray for more.
There are still fires burning across the nation and the fire season is far from over.
Communities are still reeling from the devastation and many families are picking through the wreckage of their homes and livelihoods wondering where to begin.
Yet there is an uncommon hope and a coming-together that characterises the people of this nation when faced with extreme heartbreak and it is this and the generosity that rises up in the midst of it all that confounds the bleakness of the loss.
Once again, we extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has generously donated to our Bushfire Appeal. As a global church we have now raised over AUD$1.2 million to support firefighters and people directly affected by the fires.
As mentioned in our previous update (read here) with careful consideration we have been able to quickly resource key, trusted organisations on the ground and partner with them to get the funds to where it is needed most. This also includes the rebuilding efforts that lie in the months and years ahead for the many communities that have been devastated by the fires.
THE SALVATION ARMY (SALVOS)
From our appeal, we have contributed $620,000 to support the Salvation Army’s Australian Bushfire recovery efforts. The Salvos were amongst the first responders when this crisis began around four months ago and now many of their emergency operations are moving into the recovery phase having already delivered more than AUD$5 million of relief and aid to affected communities across Australia.
Our support will go towards the Salvos three-phase strategy in this crisis:
Phase 1 includes feeding and providing support for first responders and assist with the management and service of evacuation centres appropriate to local need, In Victoria for example, this has included the provision of bedding and material aid. In NSW/ACT this has primarily taken the form of hospitality and meal provision. To date more than 225,000 meals have been prepared and served, and over 115,000 light refreshments provided to first responders and evacuees.
Phase 2 and 3 involve providing asssments and provision of emergency and long term financial support to individuals and families affected. This is provided through a combination of face-to-face and telephone assessments delivered by trained Salvation Army officers, staff and volunteers.
Financial support includes financial grants, special housing grants (rent, power/gas, telephone/internet), special household/personal grants (clothing, bedding, kitchen utensils, furniture), personal needs (medical and pharmaceutical), temporary and transitional accommodation relocation grants, vehicle grants (registration, insurance and petrol), school assistance (books, uniforms, excursions), financial counselling, and survivor advocacy.
The provision of financial support to those in need ensures that their dignity is maintained whilst ensuring that funds can be spent locally to support small business and commence the rebuilding of community stability.
National Fire Services
For months, firefighters and emergency personnel have sacrificed their personal safety to combat the spread of bushfires during this national crisis. Many of us have watched the unfolding crisis through the media and seen the horrific conditions that they have contended with to help protect their communities.
We especially wanted to provide our support to volunteer firefighters who willingly gave up their time to be first responders, with tragically a number of them losing their lives on the frontlines to save others.
We want to honour these courageous firefighters and our thoughts and prayers are with all those families who have lost loved ones while in the service of their community.
Hillsong Church has contributed $300,000 to the National Fire Services and distributed it equally across the four states that have been most severly affected by the fires (New South Wales (NSW Rural Fire Service families of deceased firefighters); Queensland (Queensland Rural Fire Service fund), South Australia (South Australian Country Fire Service volunteers) and Victoria (Volunteer Firefighter Welfare Fund).
Funds have been contributed to Foodbank NSW, a trusted organisation forming part of the official Bushfires emergency response network. Our Hillsong Global Bushfire Appeal has so far donated AUD$200,000 towards the amazing work Foodbank is doing to provide meals, food and essential supplies to stricken areas. Foodbank is delivering exactly what is needed, when and where it’s needed in order to efficiently and effectively support the relief efforts. Through the generosity of your giving, Foodbank is able to provide $6 worth of supplies for every $1 donated to affected communities thanks also to the strength of their relationship with the food industry. Our $200,000 donation towards the mammoth task they are carrying out during this critical time means an estimated $1.2 million worth of food and essential supplies can be distributed to bushfire affected regions.
LOCAL COMMUNITY REBUILDING
The remaining funds of just over a $100,000 will be directed towards local communities and working to find the long term needs that will enable communities to rebuild.
We are continually mindful that this crisis is far from over and those we endeavour to help have a long road of recovery ahead. We are thankful for trustworthy organisations who have forged long-term credibility and have gone the distance in the trenches over many years to bring the right support and it is our honour to help facilitate their ongoing efforts to rebuild lives and communities.
Thank you once again to everyone who has generously donated thus far. We are incredibly grateful to you all and value your continued prayers for our nation.
Links to supported organisations
Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria