Dear Scouting Friends,
Last week, Anthony Pritchard (Deputy Region Commissioner) and myself spent time on the South Coast to meet with some of our Scouting families to let them know that Scouting communities across the Region, State, nationally and internationally are here to support them and, where possible, provide support to their recovery from the devastating bushfires and drought.
The one thing that was very evident in all people we spoke to was the unity within each of the communities and the determination to overcome this adversity. They are genuinely pleased to know that others care about them.
At this stage, the most effected communities of Cobargo, Mogo, Ulladulla and Batemans Bay are struggling to manage the volume of donations and as advised previously are asking people to stop the tide of clothing, food and toys, mainly because they have nowhere to store the volumes. What is really needed is money flowing into their economies to allow for the businesses to re-establish and kick start the regrowth.
Unfortunately, we were unable to visit Eden during our visit and but intend to make that face to face contact along with Merimbula and Bega in the near future and once the danger has passed.
While we will be dealing with mental health issues from months, maybe years to come, Scouts are well positioned to facilitate support to those in need. Most impacted families have left the area to take children away from the devastation to more pleasant surroundings, while others are getting into the tasks of rebuilding lost property and their lives. We saw evidence of the fickle nature of bushfires with the random burning of property, where structures were left standing and yet everything else (including other structures) burnt to the ground. Judging by the damage, it is clear that the heat generated by these fire storms and associated weather conditions is nothing short of horrendous within which nothing could survive.
On a positive note, we have had contacts from;
- Scouts in the United Kingdom (6th Tonbridge in Kent), who have a Go Fund Me page going to raise and provide 500 Pounds Sterling to the Scouts NSW Family Support Fund and are communicating with 1st Cobargo Scouts just to let them know that they care and want to help.
- 1st Maclean Scout Group (North Coast Region) have established a buddy link with the 1st Batemans Bay Scout Group to provide direct support.
- External organisations supply of breathing masks for Scouts to use when assisting with any clean ups.
- Quilters Australia providing quilts to those especially in need after losing everything.
- Anonymous donor presenting to 1st Cobargo Scout Group, two (2) person tents to help with the re-establishment of the equipment lost during the destruction of the fires.
This is just to name a few instances of the tremendous support being availed to our effected Scouting communities.
While we were initially depressed at what we were seeing in the aftermath of these fires, we were soon garned by the resilience of those effected. Anthony and I were also really surprised and happy to attend the 1st Burrill Ulladulla Christmas Party, which had been delayed due to the fires. It was a great night and we both thank the Group and especially Tracy Dell (Group Leader) for the effort she and her team went to in ensuring that their Scout Group families are OK.
Our website and Facebook page contain a number of links to documents which can assist us through these trying times and I recommend a one page document which helps to self-assess your health and what to do about it. The document is titled “How Are You Going Guide” and can be found at the following link:
As you do appreciate, these bushfires are by no means out and more damage is anticipated in a number of centres on the South Coast, Shoalhaven and Southern Tablelands. I would urge you to remain vigilant, stay safe and stay aware over the coming weeks. Ask for assistance if you need it and above all care for those around you.
South Coast & Tablelands Region