Staying for the long haul: How we’re responding to Australia’s destructive floods
When our house on the Central Coast started to leak, my thoughts turned to the families who had lost so much in the recent floods.
As I write, some of our staff and the people we help are grappling with loss. Many communities are still out of reach and the true extent of the devastation is still yet to be determined.
In the past few weeks, many Australians have come face to face with different types of homelessness. For some, it involves sleeping in emergency shelters, staying in overcrowded spaces or couch surfing.
Many are still hoping to safely return home but sadly, this hasn’t been the case.
A large portion of the homes in flood-prone areas were occupied by those living on lower incomes. With insurance costs out of the question for families struggling to afford rent, these communities have been disproportionately impacted. The floods are a tragedy for these families, making an already challenging situation so much worse.
Committed to long-term restoration
I’m incredibly proud to work for an organisation committed to the long-term recovery of hurting communities. While Mission Australia is not a disaster relief organisation, we provide vital community services across Australia, providing support to people and families experiencing disadvantage and homelessness.
Despite the challenges, our teams have been working to provide vital services. For example, in Inala, our community programs have prepared over 1,000 Recovery Kits which include non-perishable food items, children’s activities and personal hygiene items.
Our teams from across the Mid North Coast and Northern NSW have also been going above and beyond to assist the community’s recovery efforts through donation drives, counselling support and cleaning out homes. In Coffs Harbour, our frontline staff have been distributing essential items such as food, cleaning products and fuel to families in the community.
The work is emotionally and physically exhausting but day after day, our team are coming together to help families get back on their feet.
As an organisation, we are continuing to advocate for long-term investment in social and affordable housing so that everyone can have a safe and secure home.
We are also a member of peak organisations and sector campaigns that are advocating to government for specific measures to address the homelessness and housing insecurity caused by the floods. This includes support for emergency housing, emergency rental assistance and recovery grants in the short-medium term, with a continued long-term focus on increasing social and affordable housing infrastructure to a level that meets demand.
How you can help in a time of need
As we face yet another challenge this year, there are many ways we can stand together as a community. Here are some ways you can join us:
- Donate to relief efforts: For those who wish to support the immediate relief effort, the most effective way is to give directly to an official disaster relief charity like The Salvation Army, Red Cross or St Vincent De Paul.
- Stand alongside our supporters: Some of our regular supporters have been affected by the floods and are no longer able to donate. You can continue their act of generosity by committing to regular donations.
- Pray for families: if you believe in the power of prayer, I invite you to join me in praying for affected communities. If you need prayer, I hope you can find encouragement with these prayers for difficult times.
Long after the flood waters subside, it will take an extended period of time and community-wide support to recover what has been lost. As an organisation focused on ending homelessness and strengthening communities, we know there is and will be much work to do to ensure that people are safely and appropriately housed and have the community support they need.
While our nation is recovering from the unpredictable effects of climate change on our communities and livelihoods, I find comfort in the small acts of compassion and resilience. Difficulty doesn’t have to breed division and chaos, instead, it can be an opportunity for us to demonstrate exceptional kindness and generosity.
In recent times, there have been countless stories of kindness – strangers donating unused blankets, children setting aside pocket money to aid relief efforts and organisations working collaboratively to support people in need. These stories remind us that when we choose to stand together, we can overcome difficulty with hope.
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