Over the past few weeks, Mel from the C2C team has been activated twice as a Red Cross volunteer and travelled down to Bairnsdale to assist in the bushfire relief.

The first week of January she worked the night shift as a Team Leader in the main relief centre helping provide accommodation and food to evacuated people and helping them register and talk about their experiences. Mel learnt how much people value just having someone neutral to talk to. Mel had already been working with many of the evacuated communities as part of the 50 Communities Project so it really gave her insight into how the small things we have helped provide them with can make a big difference to their ability to respond to and bounce back from a major disaster such as this one.

Last week Mel returned to Bairnsdale to work as a Liaison Officer in the Incident Control Centre. That was a completely different role but just as valuable an experience where she was working with the council and all the other emergency services agencies to provide immediate relief items to affected and often isolated communities. Mel quickly realised how the whole operation was based on the information they received from key contacts on the ground. Having at least one reliable contact in each town made a huge difference to the efficiency of their operations.

Once again this reinforced Mel’s belief that communities know what they need, and all we need to do as external agencies is to listen and link them to the service they need. Mel has seen towns rally together to make sure that every household is looked after and not overlooked, and these are the places that Mel believes will be the most resilient in the long term.

Connected communities are resilient communities!

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