Dear Scouting Friends,
Let me start by saying that a number of well meaning gestures have been received by me from beyond the Scouting family in South Coast & Tablelands Region, which typifies the nature of Scouts the World over. That is our family needs us to help and without question or favour it happens. I am heartened by the generosity of our Scouting brothers and sisters and am personally thanking them for their offers of assistance and prayers.
At present, of all our Scouting families impacted by fire, I can advise that to our knowledge we have not had any serious injury or worst to those who we have been able to contact through various means. There are some families and individuals who remain out of communication, but we are confident they are safe.
It has been confirmed that 2 Scouting families have lost their homes and a business. There are also a number of other reports of home damage, but I stress that the reports are yet to be confirmed and with the approaching weather risk later this week, that the risk of property damage is high.
I would particularly note and recognise the amount of work and dedication our District Commissioners are putting in on the ground in the fire zones. All have been evacuated at least once and continue to check on their people effected as well as provide Region with the important communication and information to develop the appropriate response for us to implement which will realise the best outcomes. I’m sure most people would not know the level of effort being expended by their District Commissioners at present. Your support of them and their efforts is appreciated. One DC has started wearing his “I Survived the Zombie Apocalypse” Jamborette hat again.
On a serious note and as you are aware, I previously issued a directive which set the process for providing support to those in need and outlined how we are approaching this catastrophe as a Region.
I implore everyone to take notice of the instructions from your District Commissioner as they are the most up to date authority in your District as they are in constant contact with the effected fire zones along with myself.
To be absolutely clear, the directives are restated below;
- Region personnel and District Staff, working with Group Leaders will identify the needs to be addressed, where necessary.
- That support will be coordinated by District Commissioners and/or Region. This means that if support from one district is being offered to another district, the District Commissioner will make the approach to the receiving District Commissioner or if within the same district than the support needs to be advised to and coordinated by the District Commissioner, so that in both cases the areas of most need are addressed appropriately.
The decisions to advise people are based upon a number of factors including knowing what the relief agency and RFS/emergency services are advising us.
The receivers of the support certainly do not want anyone putting themselves or others at risk and as is the case of the south coast relief agencies being completely overwhelmed with the volume of donations so much so that they are telling everyone through social media not to deliver anything as there is already more than enough resource available. This is definitely the case in Bateman’s Bay and Cobargo, along with Bega and other centres. I have been advised that relief donations arriving are now being diverted to other locations in the fire zones, such as Scout Halls, which is taking up valuable evacuee space.
So, please listen to the advice and if you have donations ensure at your District Commissioner is aware so arrangements can be made for delivery. Conversely, donations can be delivered to your nearest relief agency away from the fire zones provided they have the room to store.
From there, when we are allowed by the RFS and it is safe to do so, our Region Welfare Team will be visiting your Districts to talk with all affected families (if those families wish), but particularly those who have lost homes and property to do the following;
- Talk with the families to ascertain their needs and let them know we care.
- Discuss how Scouting can assist with re-establishing normal life.
- Assess their mental health in regards to assisting to support them. As a lot of people have faced trauma as result of the fires, it is safe to say that our Scout families may have been effected and will need help.
We are looking at ramping up support once relief agencies are over the initial bump and we have established the needs of our people. In the medium to long term, support mechanisms (6-12 weeks and beyond) in support of the relief organisation means many things and following a number of discussions with the Chief Commissioner the following are being available to our effected members;
- The Family Support Fund;
- The Chief Commissioners Emergency Relief Fund;
- The Country Regions Fund.
A number of other Region based initiatives are being finalised at present and will be advised in the future which will look at the ongoing support. Further announcements will be made through Chief Chat and other mediums.
If you are wishing to donate cash to any of these funds, details can be found on the Scouts NSW Website (nsw.scouts.com.au).
I will endeavour to periodically provide communications to the Region as we progress forward.
Lastly, I wanted to mention the sacrifice our firefighters are making, many of which are Scout members, to this disaster. We are truly indebted to them and rightly acknowledge them as heros. Also, a number of Scout members (youth and Adults) are providing the all important care for the animal victims at various locations around the Region and State.
A simple thank you doesn’t seem enough.
South Coast & Tablelands Region