Uniting Church flood response: Chaplains helping families hit first by fires now by floodwaters

Flood victims only left with a ‘shopping bag’ of all their possessions

For immediate release: 25 March 2021

The Co-ordinator of the NSW Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network, Rev. Dr Stephen Robinson has warned that many families hit by floodwaters across the state will take years to recover.

Rev. Robinson said many families had been heartbroken by the floods and some communities that have been hit were still recovering from drought and bushfires.

“It is heart-breaking to see the terrible damage caused by these floods, at one caravan park near Laurieton (on the mid-north coast) water just took or destroyed everything. Many of these people are already struggling financially, some are elderly. Our chaplains are with them today as they get back into their caravans to survey all the damage and begin to clean them out,” Rev. Robinson said.

“Nearly all of these people had only a single shopping bag with all they owned, the rest was lost to the flood.”

Rev. Robinson said that while government support is available it will always be limited in the light of the need and can be difficult for some such as the elderly to access.

There have been 15 chaplains deployed across 12 evacuation centres. Unlike the response to the bushfires, where hundreds of chaplains were deployed, access has been difficult with many areas still cut off.

There are currently two teams of chaplains at Port Macquarie and Laurieton, other chaplains active in the Taree and Kempsey area and on standby for the Central Coast.  One chaplain is about to depart for Moree.

The chaplains are providing support and counselling to families and individuals in need and are also distributing $100 credit card vouchers to allow families to buy critically needed supplies. They ware working in coordination with churches of all faiths in the different affected areas.

The Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network (DRCN) is a ministry of the Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT.  It trains and coordinates chaplains drawn from 15 different faith groups across the state.  The ministry is ably supported by its Operations Manager, Rev. Susan Phalen and a dedicated and capable team of Duty Officers and Logistics Volunteers.

The Moderator of the Uniting Church (NSW & ACT), Rev. Simon Hansford, said the church was seeking to do all it could to help those people who have been so badly impacted by this flooding disaster.

“Many of these communities have already been struggling with drought, bushfires, COVID19 and now this latest disaster. We are praying for them and our praying is coupled with practical help,” Rev. Hansford said.

“And we hope to increase the amount of support we can provide over the next few weeks, we know that even as the waters completely subside the need will remain great - both the physical needs of people but also in supporting their mental health at this terrible time.”

For more information, please contact:   

Martin Thomas, martin@martinwthomasconsulting.com, 0477 340 704


About the NSW Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network (DRCN)

NSW DRCN is a ministry of the Synod of NSW and ACT. Rev. Dr Stephen Robinson is the coordinator of 380 volunteer chaplains from 15 different faith groups. The Synod is a Community Partner in the disaster welfare arrangements, so when evacuations take place (or recovery activity) DRCN is called upon to provide pastoral care, comfort and support to people. DRCN also come beside faith leaders to equip and support them in the recovery.

About the Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT 

The Uniting Church is one of the largest Christian denominations in Australia. Our Congregations and members are diverse in age, location and culture. The Synod of NSW and the ACT supports more than 500 Congregations, 50,000 members, 13 Presbyteries and 9 schools and Parish Missions. We are connected by a single story, worshipping every week in more than 40 languages.