FROM this week, Red Cross specialist volunteers and staff have begun going door-to-door to offer support to people affected by last week’s Pinery bushfire in South Australia.
Red Cross volunteers, who will be in the field with teams from Housing SA and Uniting Church, are trained in providing personal and emotional support and advice after a disaster. They may refer people to other specialist agencies and support services depending on their needs.
Today Red Cross teams are visiting people in Roseworthy and Mallala. Tomorrow the fire danger is expected to lessen and it’s hoped the teams will be able to visit other areas where people were affected by the Pinery fire.
‘Recovery from a disaster can be a long process and often we find that it is months or even years after the disaster that people really hit the wall: that’s when they’ve used up all their financial and emotional reserves and really hit empty,’ says Jai O’Toole, Australian Red Cross State Manager Emergency Services.
‘Experience shows that people who reach out for help, be it from family, government or community services, and who get involved in local support activities recover better and faster.
‘As the publicity around the fires starts to fade away people can easily feel that there’s no more help available and that they’re now facing the challenge all alone. We need to raise awareness that for many people it will take a long time to get back on their feet and that they are not alone; support will be available.’
Along with the field team, another group of Red Cross staff and volunteers will be calling people living in the affected area to offer support and advice over the phone.
Volunteers and staff going door-to-door will be wearing Red Cross uniforms and carrying official identification. If no one is home, they will leave a calling card with contact details and an information pack. Red Cross also has many free recovery resources, including resources just for children, available on its website: redcross.org.au/emergency-resources.