Record-breaking dry conditions and high winds sparked a major bushfire emergency across New South Wales and Queensland over the last week, with scores of homes destroyed, many more threatened and hundreds of people evacuated.
The Uniting Church has co-ordinated chaplains to offer pastoral care and congregations have stepped in to support those communities impacted across both states.
This week saw the start of series of crisis care workshops conducted by visiting speaker Rev. Dr Naomi Paget.
Dr Paget is a world expert in disaster recovery chaplaincy and crisis intervention, working with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, the FBI and other agencies.
Many communities have been heavily impacted by Tropical Cyclone Debbie and the aftermath of the flooding which continues throughout the east of Queensland and the NSW far north coast.
The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Stuart McMillan has asked Church members to lend their support to UCA appeals for communities suffering in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie.
It’s just over a year since a bushfire raged through Pinery just north of Adelaide resulting in two deaths and extensive losses of crop, stock and property.
Coordinating the Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network across NSW is no easy feat, from evacuation and recovery centres to ongoing pastoral support.
This week I joined NSW/ACT Synod Moderator Rev. Dr Myung Hwa Park and General Secretary Rev. Dr Andrew Williams in signing a new Memorandum of Understanding with the NSW Department of Justice.
Just after Cyclone Winston the Methodist Church in Fiji prepared 70 students from their theological college in pastoral care and chaplaincy for disaster situations and sent them out across Fiji.
I have just completed three days of training in Port Vila, Vanuatu with a group from our partner church, the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu (PCV) and the national Anglican, Churches of Christ and Assemblies of God.
Over the next couple of weeks I will be working with UnitingWorld on two important national projects in the Pacific.
Next week I will be meeting with Fijian Heads of Churches and other faith group leaders in the Fijian capital Suva to discuss the idea of forming a national disaster recovery chaplaincy network. Together we will be formalising a proposal to take to a meeting with the Fijian Government and other stakeholders in disaster welfare the following day.