MEDIA RELEASE

Critical community support available in NSW fire affected areas

12 November, 2019, 4:00pm

The Moderator of the Uniting Church in NSW and ACT today said that the demand for community support due to the State of Emergency is expected to exceed previous emergencies in NSW in the coming weeks.

Rev. Simon Hansford, Moderator of the NSW and ACT Synod of the Uniting Church, said today that our role in coordinating disaster recovery chaplaincy, and additional financial support for urgent needs, is critical in the broad range of emergency services on the ground.

“The Church coordinates chaplains in evacuation centres through the NSW Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network, a ministry of the Uniting Church in Australia (Synod of NSW and ACT).

The network is a multi-faith, multicultural network of over 300 chaplains. Uniting Church also provides resources and training for chaplains on the ground during emergencies. Most recently, training took place in the wake of the Tathra fire. “Today, we have 22 chaplains in evacuation areas with a further 50 on stand-by. It’s a big commitment from them to important community work,” said Rev. Hansford.

“During disasters, our role is to offer counselling services, listen and offer support to those affected by the emergency and those in crisis,” Rev. Hansford said. “It’s a necessary service and something we’ve been doing for decades in the most tragic circumstances, most recently during the fire emergencies in Rappville, Casino and Drake.”

“The next thing we do is to establish an appeal for financial donations from the community to support those in affected areas. The Moderator’s Appeal  directs funds to communities and individuals during emergencies for urgent, short term financial assistance often for those who are suddenly and unexpectedly in need.”

Rev. Hansford, who has thirty years of experience in Ministry with rural and regional communities, announced yesterday that the appeal would be deployed to help people affected by the bushfires.  “The appeal is designed to make funds quickly available. We often use the fund to support people in evacuation centres who may have lost their home or livelihood in the fires.” 

He encouraged members of community to reach out for support. “Even if you think you are OK, the disruption and uncertainty can be enormously stressful. Importantly, in the weeks and months that follow, you can still get in touch to talk to someone through any Uniting Church. We will still be here.”

NSW ACT Moderator Simon Hansford is available for comment.

For media enquiries, contact Steph O’Connell on 0439 600 312 or media@nswact.uca.org.au