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Monday, February 09, 2009

Victorian Bushfires - HOW YOU CAN HELP.

Everyone wants to help, but help has to be organised and considered.
The Authorities are asking people not to just "turn up" to help - even though that is a generous response to a tragedy.

The Red Cross is running an Appeal.
I reprint their notice, in part, so you get the idea.
The website for donations is run by them, and I have nothing whatsoever to do with it, personally.
  • Victorian bushfires 2009 - Appeal
  • The 2009 Victorian bushfire Fund to assist individuals and communities affected by devastating bushfires in Victoria has been launched by the Premier John Brumby in partnership with Red Cross and the Federal Government. A number of corporate organisations including NAB, ANZ, CBA and Wesfarmers have also contributed to the fund.
  • As at 3:30pm on the 9th February, the Fund had received $5.6 million from over 32,000 people through the website and phone, with governments including the Victorian Government and Federal Government and corporates pledging additional sums. Donations are still continuing to flow in.
  • An independent panel made up of community leaders will oversee the appeal Fund's operation. Criteria for assistance will include the extent of the hardship covered and the extent to which a person's livelihood has been impacted.
  • Donations can be made using our secure online donations form or by phoning 1800 811 700.
The full notice, with caveats and explanations can be seen at their official Website

Please read that notice, and you can also follow the links at the bottom to other Agencies and Organisations which are organising assistance, including Blood Donations. Follow that link.
  • They do want Blood Donations
  • They do want offers of accommodation.
  • They do not want more Volunteers - at present. If their need changes, or more likely their ability to handle offers of assistance increases, they will make a public announcement.
  • They do not want "goods" donated. They are urging people to shop locally, to support local businesses.
Some of these restrictions may seem counter-intuitive, but they are based upon protocols established based on previous experiences with disaster relief after events like Cyclone Tracy, and the Ash Wednesday Fires. Nobody wants to hear, in months to come, of fraudsters operating, and thieves and con-men having ripped people off, at this low point of their lives.

Make your feelings known and provide support through through proper channels.
This is what the Federal and State Governments want you to do.
Its safer for you (dealing with certified agencies), and more efficient in the long run.

I would like to thank the hundreds of people from all around the world who have visited this little Blog in the last few days.
Obviously you care about your friends and relatives.

But please do so through proper authorised channels only.

I am more than a little annoyed at the Media's fixation on the bushfire as the greatest tragedy to strike Australia. It isn't.

It makes for great MEDIA, but it is NOT GOOD HISTORY.
  • For example, 12000 + people died in Australia, between 1918 and 1919 from the "Spanish Flu" epidemic. That was before TV and the Internet, and Radio was in its infancy. Not good for the Media. The ignorant children who run TV Stations have no idea!
  • In the Heatwave that caused "Black Friday" 438 people died from heat-related medical problems - far more than were killed by the fires themselves. Why is that forgotten?
  • Cyclone Mahina destroyed Bathurst Bay, Queensland, on 4 March 1889, killing 410 people. They were mostly Pearl Fishermen, and local Aboriginals who tried to rescue the shipwrecked fishermen, and were washed out to sea by the backwash of the Tidal Wave caused by the Cyclone. Dare I say it, these "demographics" are not top of the Media's list. And it was all a long time ago. But it did happen, and ought not be written out of history.
These are just a few examples of natural disasters (including the Flu Epidemic) which dwarf the events of the last few days. Check this "List of Disasters by Death Toll" to put it all in perspective.

Cyclone Tracy is ranked much lower than this current Fire Storm (71 people died) - so I am not trying to diminish the story. I just want it kept in perspective.
This Fire Storm needs a name.
"Ash Wednesday" was appropriately ambiguous.
"Black Friday" was suitably ambiguous and the name has stuck.

In a few months time, what will they call these fires?

Politicians (of both main Parties) have entered the fray, grandstanding as usual.

Julia Gillard, Deputy PM, standing in for Mr Rudd (who was on the ground in Victoria) said in Parliament:

  • "The seventh of February 2009 will now be remembered as one of the darkest days in Australia's peacetime history," she said.
  • "A tragedy beyond belief, beyond precedent and really beyond words.".

Julia, I know words are cheap, but PLEASE, PLEASE, find out the truth.

This was a bad fire, but not nearly as large or intense as the 1939 fires.

The thing which has changed is that more people have been encouraged to live amongst the timbered country north-east of Melbourne. That is bad policy. A disaster waiting to happen. We need to tell that to John Brumby's proposed Royal Commission, for he seemingly cannot understand why it was so bad!

Even the High Country fires of December 2006 and January 2007 burnt out vastly more bush than these fires have (so far).

Politicians mouthing words drafted for them by inexperienced Political Assistants, because the words "sound good", is not the standard we should expect from our National Leaders.



Duncan said...

Thanks for putting all that information up Denis, you've done hours of work. All the best, D.

catmint said...

Hi Denis, I also wander what this day will be called. There is a real blurring between news and entertainment. And both make money. But it's good that we publicize the Red Cross Appeal.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Duncan
Glad you appreciate what I have posted. Its not my local district, but I have followed large fires since I did watch a small fire smoulder for weeks before it blew into a huge blaxe, in conditions similar to those in Victoria last weekend.
Then, and only then, did the Rural Fire Service swoop in to "save" Nowra. They could have put it out, at a fraction of the cost 2 weeks before, as a small fire.
They have changed policy now (since the Canberra Fires). Good.
I have learnt my way around the various resources on the Web for tracking fires, and put it up to help people find out what is going on. I am not an expert on fires, and do not pretend to be. But I can at least provide the necessary links to people who are.
I am aware that you have hands on experience of fires. So I appreciate your comment.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Catmint.
Welcome to my blog.
I am glad you appreciate the link to the Red Cross Appeal.
My Blog is a relatively small "rater", but over the weekend, I have had hundred of visitors to my Blog from UK and USA and other places - probably Ex-Pat Aussies, wondering about friends and relatives. So they can also help, if they wish, via Internet.
Lets hope they contribute something.

Jaska said...

Your catastrophe is now in the headlines here in Sweden. I grief with all those who have lost their love ones in flames.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Jaska
Thanks for comment.
It has been terrible.
So many people loved living in the forest, but it has turned bad for them.
Weather was terribly hot 45 C - and much hotter in the fires, of course.
Winds blew flames so fast.
Nothing anyone could do in the end.
Very sad.

Gouldiae said...

G'day Denis,
Good one, we have to keep a perspective, terrible as it seems at the moment.
The 'blame game' has started too. All I know is I cannot remember a worse day weather wise for a very long time. And, of course arsonists don't help.

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hello Denis,

thank you for the history lesson - it is much appreciated. The research, time and effort you put into your blog is remarkable. Well done.


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gouldiae and Gaye
Thanks both for the comments.
The less said about the Arsonists, the better. Despicable.
Gaye I find the digging around to discover the reality, as distinct from the "mythology" very interesting. Glad you found it so, as well.