Friday, 24 March 2017

Disaster Recovery Report

Written by Rev. Dr Stephen Robinson

Uniting Disaster Recovery hosted a historic meeting of disaster recovery chaplaincy coordinators from all across the country, with every state and territory represented. This meeting comes at an important time, as the Northern and QLD Synods are involved in establishing integrated, ecumenical, disaster recovery chaplaincy networks.

One year on from Tropical Cyclone Winston, the work continues supporting the Fiji Council of Churches in establishing their own national disaster recovery chaplaincy network. The important work of the church in psychosocial care and community recovery has previously been disconnected from the national disaster recovery plan and other key agencies. Our workshop in Fiji was a project of UnitingWorld combining Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy training and Disaster Risk Reduction work with planning and input from their partner agencies in Fiji and other Pacific nations.

The extreme heatwave in NSW struck with catastrophic fire conditions and bushfire emergencies in the Sir Ivan Fire and Queanbeyan Fire. These resulted in widespread losses of homes, outbuildings, machinery, fencing and stock.  The NSW Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network, coordinated by the Uniting Church, worked alongside other agencies, supporting locals. National Disaster Recovery Officer Rev. Dr Stephen Robinson followed up by assisting local ministers to respond in the early stages of recovery. For those affected, recovery will be an ongoing process for some time to come.

After that it was onto the SA Synod for a four-day engagement in recovery and training. On the first day Rev. Dr Robinson met with three ministry agents that had been working for up to a year in the area of the Pinery Fire, and assisted Post Disaster and Recovery Ministries Coordinator Wendy Perkins with a debriefing and assessment process of those involved.

As the scorching summer gives way to cooler and wetter conditions, please keep these disaster-affected communities in your thoughts and prayers as they begin to recover.