Friday, 22 January 2016

Concern for the communities of Western Australia

Written by Rev. Dr Stephen Robinson

This time of year we don’t have far to look for extreme weather events or for the impact of disaster on our landscapes and communities.

Since I last wrote we have had devastation from bushfires in the Lorne area of Victoria, flooding in a number of areas including the beleaguered Hunter district, a tornado in the Sydney suburb of Kurnell, and yet more devastating fire in the area and township of Yarloop in Western Australia.

I have just spent this week working with the WA Synod. I was based at Bunbury for two days as I connected with Uniting Church ministry agents and key leaders from communities around Yarloop. I also ran disaster recovery training there and introductory peer support training for ministers in the Perth area.

The Yarloop fire has claimed lives and created some real concern in the community, given the sheer number of houses lost. The people of the community are asking whether or not the town will be rebuilt, who will come back and who will leave. Certainly so much of this heritage town from the early 1900s will never be the same.

The special challenge here for the Uniting Church is that it does not have an ongoing presence in the town itself, but will be seeking to bring blessing to those affected from communities such as Bunbury, Waroona, Pinjarra and Mandurah, where so many people have needed to move as they make decisions about the future.  

Also in WA, districts north of Esperance were badly affected by bushfire prior to Christmas. Here the Synod has engaged Rev. Rob Dummermuth in a part-time recovery ministry for six months, working on community recovery. I was pleased to connect with Rob and discuss this work and his support.  

It is easy to forget the needs of people so profoundly affected by loss when the headlines have moved on to yet another disaster.  

Please remember them, and those who minister to them in your prayers, and remember also to support this work financially through the ongoing Synod and Assembly Disaster Relief funds.