Bushfire Recovery & Resilience Program

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Supporting Aussie Families Rebuild and Prepare for Future Bushfires

Habitat for Humanity Australia is currently the largest and most active organisation in the Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands areas mobilising volunteers to provide extensive, free, practical bushfire recovery assistance to disadvantaged members of the communities. Thanks to the support of our volunteers, partners and donors we have been able to support more Australian families recover from the Bushfires and now help them prepare for future bushfires.

Bushfire Recovery Program

From 2019-2021 Habitat Australia’s Bushfire Recovery program mobilised over 1,000 volunteers and staff to assist Bushfire affected families in the Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands get back on their feet. Habitat provided free recovery services to fire-affected residents which involved clean-up, salvage, sorting and piling of debris including homes, sheds and outbuildings, fencing and trees.

Across South Australia and New South Wales we were able to:
Complete 356 recovery days
Assist 213 property owners
Engage 1,011 volunteers
Delivered  and installed 7 demountable homes

Bushfire Resilience Program

This project offers practical support to bushfire impacted communities to build resilience, capacity, and management of bushfire prevention activities. Habitat for Humanity works alongside vulnerable residents and volunteers to clear burned debris and fire-prone vegetation, provide minor building repairs, and prepare homes and properties for bushfires. This project will create local Community Bushfire Committees to connect residents, disseminate information on preparedness, and assist each other in the event of a disaster.

The catastrophic bushfires in the summer 2019/2020 left many communities in NSW particularly vulnerable to the future bushfire seasons. Large dead trees and fire prone vegetation disproportionately cover the land. Widespread trauma and intersectional vulnerabilities including, age, disability, financial limitations, and community disengagement leave many residents isolated and unable to carry out the work needed to practically prepare their homes and properties for future bushfire seasons.

The Need for Our Bushfire Resilience Program

Climate change highlights the need for all stakeholders to identify risks and capacities in their communities, then work together to prepare for, and adapt to, the changing environment. Residents have expressed a willingness to be better organised, educated, and connected to each other and emergency services. In addition, this project aligns with the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework (2018) that promotes the need for inclusive engagement, an understanding of the risks presented by disasters, the notion of shared responsibility, and integrated action between sectors.

Bushfire Resilience Program Outputs

This project response will aim to ensure that individuals and communities are physically and mentally prepared for bushfire seasons. It was recognised that fires of this kind are hard to suppress, regardless of how well-prepared fire authorities are, and managing risk and making properties as safe as possible must happen at an individual and community level. This project works at a local level to implement comprehensive hazard reduction activities and assist communities to be better organised and prepared for bushfires.

Habitat for Humanity will work with volunteer teams towards making communities aware of ways to make their properties and communities more resilient and more prepared for disasters in the future

More about our Bushfire Recovery Program

New South Wales Impact

Our Bushfire Recovery Program started in NSW in June and the volunteer teams are conducting on average 2-3 recovery days every week for the next few months.

  • 92 Recovery Days completed
  • 44 property owners assisted
  • 637 volunteers engaged
  • Key activities have included removing debris, removal and replacement of damaged fencing, re-instituting irrigation and re-planting of vegetation, and construction of a water and sanitation block.

Impact in Victoria

In Victoria we’re excited to launch ‘Build Back’ – building temporary houses for bushfire affected families so they can have a safe and secure place to live whilst they rebuild their homes.

The Bushfire Recovery Housing pilot program will include the building of three, 2-bedroom temporary houses in the Towong Shire, made from shipping containers.

We’re committed to providing shelter solutions for those that need it most.

Families who have lost everything in the fires need a secure, decent place to live whilst they build back their forever homes. The need is now and we want your support to help build more of these temporary houses. Find out how you can help.

Sinclair & Janet

Sinclair, Janet and their dog Tuva were another family affected by the catastrophic bushfires in South Australia.  Sinclair and Janet have spent the past 37 years pouring their heart and soul into their home so when the fires were getting close, they desperately tried everything to prepare their home in the hopes that it would survive. Sadly there was still extensive damage to their land and home but they were grateful they didn’t lose everything.

Here what they had to say about the Bushfire Recovery Program: “This was the first time we’ve ever needed help. We’ve paid taxes and looked after ourselves, but we really needed help. And organisations like Habitat for Humanity were here for us. It’s not just the work you do, but to know that morally, someone is helping us is overwhelming.”

Annie and Chris

Chris and Annie and their two children were one of the many families in South Australia who lost their home to the devastating bushfires. Here what they had to say about the Bushfire Recovery Program:

 “I’ve never met so many people willing to give up their time. It’s just unbelievable and it blows my mind. The manpower that Habitat has provided…the encouragement and support has been incredible. We can see it here today and without this it would take us so much longer to get back on our feet.

 “Every day is a fight, but today, for the first time in a long time, when I look at the property I am not looking at death. All I can see is new growth.” Annie and Chris are now looking ahead with hope and positivity.

Judith & Paul

Judith and Paul are a couple in NSW who lost everything they own to the 2019 Bushfires. Judith and Paul have led a 100% sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle on their line and have been an inspiration and lectures to many in the art of truly sustainable living.

Judith shares “We have been self-sufficient on this property and we’ve lived that life for 50 years and consequently, as one can imagine. Our whole lifestyle has been destroyed, not just a house, but all the sheds all the tools, all the animals died in the fire. It’s been a real tragedy. But we look at it with our glass half full because we’ve been supported by charities such as Habitat.”

Volunteering

Volunteer in South Australia

To volunteer in South Australia please call Natalie on 0419 823 137 to register.

Volunteer in NSW

If you would like to volunteer in NSW please register to receive updates on volunteering days here.

Unfortunately, we do not have any volunteering opportunities available in other states at this time. If the recovery program expands beyond SA and NSW in the future, we will be in touch.

Corporate Volunteering

We are recruiting teams of corporate volunteers for this program. This activity has been registered as COVID Safe with the NSW Government. Please contact Allison Corkhill via email on acorkhill@habitat.org.au for more information or to book in a team!

Find out how you or your organisation can support our Australian programs.