Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and New South Wales (NSW) State Premier Gladys Berejiklian recently thanked personally a team of Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Australia volunteers for their efforts in responding to the devastating bushfires in south-eastern NSW.
Hundreds of people were evacuated to Bega and Bermagui following the Tathra bushfire that rapidly spread on March 18, 2018. The fire destroyed 69 homes, while dozens of others were partially damaged. Some residents were forced to flee their homes at short notice and take shelter on the beach as the fires raged.
ADRA volunteers at the Bega Showground evacuation center helped arrange accommodation for 160 people and provided remote assistance to the Bermagui evacuation center. The ADRA volunteers worked alongside volunteers from other agencies and community groups.
Turnbull and Berejiklian personally thanked ADRA and other volunteers when they visited the Bega evacuation center.
ADRA’s NSW emergency coordinator Janice Frey paid tribute to the volunteers.
“These volunteers displayed enormous generosity in giving their time to help people displaced by the fires,” she said. “It all happened so quickly, and people had to leave urgently. ADRA volunteers did a terrific job responding and providing immediate assistance.”
Frey also highlighted the role of local communities in supporting ADRA’s efforts by also supporting themselves in the midst of the tragedy. “The local community has taken ownership of this disaster and is doing a great job looking after their own,” she said. “They are extremely supportive of those who have been impacted and are easing the distress that comes with grief and loss.”
ADRA and other humanitarian organizations encourage cash gifts, which are useful and efficient, rather than donated goods, which may not be needed, can overwhelm the community, and involve significant time and effort to sort, store and distribute.
The humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, ADRA delivers relief and development assistance to individuals through an international network with presence in more than 130 countries, regardless of their ethnicity, political affiliation, or religious association. By partnering with communities, organizations, and governments, ADRA is able to improve the quality of life of millions through disaster response, community health, livelihood and agriculture, social justice, and other impact areas.