At a time when Australia is in the midst of the biggest bush fire disaster in it’s history, many people that aren’t directly impacted by the brutality of the fires, me included, can’t help but to feel incredibly strong stirrings of emotional turmoil.
The initial feelings of horror and stunned disbelief make way for a general feeling of sadness, and the struggle to comprehend the enormity of what has happened and is still happening. I find myself fighting daily with feelings of absolute uselessness and the wish that I could help more with … something, anything …
The outpouring of support both locally and internationally has been outstanding, and we all know that monetary donations are the best way at this stage to help fight the fires, help save our wildlife, and begin the long rebuilding process. But I still feel like I should be doing more, something more physical.
One of the things that seems to have affected me most is the huge amount of wildlife that has been affected by these fires. Not just the estimated amount killed, but also the injured and who knows how many still to be discovered as they return to the burnt landscapes with no food and no shelter. And that’s just the beginning of it.
How long will it take for their natural habitat to re-establish itself, so that they can begin to thrive again? And what can we do to help that happen quicker?
So my first response was to investigate becoming a volunteer with Wildlife Victoria, with the intention of putting in for a week off work and heading out to help with whatever needs to be done. Which I think is a pretty typical response under the circumstances and probably similar to many others. And as it turns out, absolutely completely useless.
The reality is of course, that without prior training and experience there’s really not much I can offer at this stage. Obviously the last thing that these organisations need is for inexperienced people to swan in with good intentions and end up taking up precious time and resources that are needed elsewhere. So it becomes abundantly clear to me that, given that the world is experiencing more frequent natural disasters and our resources are constantly been stretched to the limit, that it would be sensible, if not necessary, for more people to be trained up across numerous disaster relief areas, so that when the need arises we are ready to step up and volunteer our services. I figure there must be multiple areas to which this would apply. But for me it’s the animals.
The key is to be trained up and ready to go, and to get ourselves in a position where we can offer practical, physical help to those in need when required . We just can’t rely on there being enough paid resources available across the country/world when is obvious that these disasters are becoming more frequent, and are happening across multiple states/countries simultaneously. The ability to share these resources becomes less and less likely as the world heats up.
So I think this is going to be an important part of 2020 for me, and a message to keep in mind.
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
If anyone is interested in finding our more about volunteering for Wildlife Victoria, you can find some info here:
They are not accepting any new volunteers at the moment due to overwhelming numbers but it’s definitely worth signing up to their mailing list and keeping in touch. Getting the process started later in the year when the pressure has eased off will ensure that more people are ready to act in the next fire season. It’s just a matter of filling in the application form, and if you qualify then you will be invited to attend further training. Definitely worth the time spent.
You can also apply to be a volunteer during wildlife emergencies with DELWP ( Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning). You can find all the info and fact sheets for DELWP here: