Scouts Australia Provide Bushfire Support
A firestorm swept across parts of Australia during February, killing 210 people, destroying more than 2,000 homes and severely damaging over 400,000 hectares of forests and farmland. A combination of a long-term drought, temperatures exceeding 46 degrees Celsius and winds in excess of 100 kilometres per hour created the state of Victoria's 'worst day in history'. The Scouts were quick to respond in engaging with the community to help rebuild the lives of those affected by this natural disaster.
Scout Leaders and Rovers have joined with other community members in providing a great variety of support tasks, engaging more than 280 different people and supplying over 1,800 hours of work within the first month following this disaster. The tasks have included: Staffing donation phones for a fundraising telethon; sorting and relocating donations for the Diamond Creek Relief Centre; finding Scout halls to store donations; helping the Salvation Army sort donations in their warehouses; cleaning up Scout properties, Camp Warringal and the Merri Plains campsite at Whittlesea; and assisting at the Memorial Service in Melbourne.
Unfortunately, some Cub Scouts, Scouts, Scout Leaders and former Scouts died from the extreme fires, whilst others have lost all of their possessions and homes. These Scouting families who were affected by the bushfires are receiving direct support by way of uniforms and equipment and reconstruction of the Scout centres. "Through this tragic event we have shown how quickly and effectively Scouting can help the broader community in addition to great work we do with youth every week." noted Bob Taylor, Chief Commissioner of Victoria.
Luc Panissod, Acting Secretary General of the World Organization of the Scout Movement offered his support, "This is another unfortunate reminder of how important it is that we ensure Scouts are prepared to respond to environmental hazards and natural disasters. As Baden-Powell said: 'There's nothing like 'Being Prepared' is there, for what might seem possible, even if it may not seem probable.' We wish for a prompt recovery for those communities in Australia affected by these fires and thank our brother and sister Scouts in Australia for demonstrating their service so clearly."
For more information about the fires in Australia please see: www.vicscouts.asn.au
See the photo gallery for photographs from the fire affected areas and support provided by Scouts.
Picture: Fire engulfs tree ferns in Victoria, Australia, © Scouts Australia / Jade Elliott