2020 Bushfires – Certificate of Recognition
This year was a challenging time for us all on the Far South Coast. There were a number of cascading events – starting with the New Year’s Eve bushfires, flooding events and then the Covid-19 pandemic.
Our small SEARMS team was under increased workload pressure as the fires consumed our communities resulting in the loss of everything for four households and a range of damage to many others – all the while dealing with the trauma of the lived experience of a catastrophic bushfire event. SEARMS is grateful to the Aboriginal Housing Office who sent staffing resources in administration and property scoping; and the local Aboriginal Affairs office who convened a local forum for Aboriginal organisations to share information and provide support for our staff, tenants and communities.
The efforts of our team to rehouse our displaced families relied on utilising our networks and following up any leads. This was challenging as the summer’s bushfires covered 65% of the Far South Coast, destroying 466 homes in the Bega Valley and 501 in the Eurobodalla. Tragically, it also claimed 8 lives ( Source: Bega Distict News. Albert McKnight).
It took seven weeks to find a home for the last of our family’s and was a team effort with our Aboriginal families and communities; Aboriginal organisation network, the AHO and the specially formed Bushfire Housing Assistance Response Team (BHART) of NSW Department of Communities and Justice.
Finally, a big thanks to the SEARMS staff who were part of this journey both current and past (shout out to John, Kate, Quentin, Alinta, Benjamin and Norman).