As you will be aware the devastation of the bushfires on the South Coast in the last few weeks has been nothing short of horrendous and the impact will be with us for a long time.
We recognise and acknowledge that a lot of Scouting people wish to provide whatever support they can within their means to those Scouts and their families effected and thank you for the response you are displaying. However, we need to be mindful of the fact that any support into the areas where people are impacted needs to be co-ordinated and measured to the identified needs of those people.
To clarify what has been happening behind the scenes to date from a Region and State perspective, the following is happening;
- The Region Commissioner has been in constant contact with all District Commissioners, particularly Southern Coast on the progress of the fires and communities impacted.
- While it is unclear of the exact extent of damage sustained by Scouting families as yet, we have only had confirmation of one property impacted seriously at Cobargo. Other properties are still under threat and will be so for some time to come.
- Not all Scouting families have been contacted that have been effected mainly due to communications that have been disrupted intentionally by authorities.
- At present we have not heard of any injuries to Scout families, but are aware of their status.
- Each District Commissioner has been asked to seek permission of Group Leaders to open Scout halls as refuges to those in need.
- All Region facilities are available to evacuees, emergency services and Council staff involved in Evacuation Centres as additional resources.
- In discussions with the Chief Commissioner, a number of State options are open to those Scouting families effected which will be announced soon and include some medium to longer term support.
- The Region Welfare Team once allowed will be spending time in the affected areas to ascertain the needs of our Scouting families and commence the resourcing of those needs in conjunction with District Commissioners and Group Leaders.
- Region Campsites (Mt Keira, Bangalee and Noonameena) are as ready as can be, but all are at risk, given the weather conditions predicted.
So the situation is that we do not fully understand the status of all our Scouting families yet, and there is more to come over the next few days. As a result their needs are not confirmed.
In order to provide the best possible response to this catastrophe, we need to be discipled to the extent of using our own structure appropriately in dealing with what is coming and has been. To that end, I am issuing the following directive so it is clear to all how the South Coast & Tablelands Region will react going forward;
- Region personnel and District Staff, working with Group Leaders will identify the needs to be addressed, where necessary.
- That support will be co-ordinated 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 co-ordinated by the District Commissioner, so that in both cases the areas of most need are addressed appropriately.
While we understand our eagerness to help those in need is not only commendable but required, we must at all times act appropriately using the right channels and authorities in achieving a desired outcome. I am aware that a number of offers of assistance have been made to date and we thank you, but the priority that this stage is to make sure people are safe, something which the emergency services are doing and hopefully our preparations are adequate.
For a list of the best contacts at Region and District levels, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
As we progress other Region personnel will be involved dependent on the specific requirement or need.
Again, it is pleasing to hear about the support already being offered to those in need and we thank you. We are after all in this together, one Scout family.
– On behalf of Phil Crutchley, Region Commissioner, South Coast & Tablelands