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Community needs at the heart of Salvos service during WA fires

4 February 2021

Watch WA bushfire report video below

While firefighters and emergency personnel continue to battle blazes east of Perth, The Salvation Army in Western Australia remains committed to supporting them and the communities affected.

Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES) teams are operating out of the Mundaring Arena staging area preparing over 1000 meals per session – breakfast, lunch, dinner and a midnight meal – a total of around 4000 meals a day. In addition to this our SAES teams are also providing 200 meals a day to police and emergency services set up at roadblock checkpoints in response to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Salvo officer, Warren Palmer has been a part of the response team and is seeing first-hand the impact of these devastating bushfires.

“The current situation in WA is really quite unpredictable,” says Warren. “This bushfire is far from done. And so consequently the impact on the community – as devastating as it is for families and individuals right now, with over 70 houses being lost – there could be far greater loss to come.”

SAES teams have been responding continuously to the needs of first responders and communities over the last two months of a very active bushfire season in WA. Swinging into action, the dedicated catering team of volunteers have prepared thousands of meals.

Over the last two months [our volunteers] have individually given us a very special gift of their time, energy and commitment of supporting our courageous first responders,” says Warren. “There has practically only been about three or four days where there has not been an incident to respond to. This has put a lot of pressure on our volunteer base. We have had a very hot summer so far which has contributed to the circumstances we have right now, but our volunteers have true hearts of gold.”

Salvation Army chaplains are currently present at evacuation centres to provide a sympathetic ear, advocacy and referrals when needed and are working with the Department of Communities to ensure a collaborative approach to any recovery. With many people escaping with just the clothes on their backs, Salvos Doorways teams remain ready to provide financial assistance to those who need it.

“In all of this we need to stay agile. We need to monitor and adjust our response as the situation unfolds,” says Warren.

“There is so much we don’t know around where this fire is going to end and land and how many houses in total we are going to lose. What we do know is that our community is our greatest concern right at this time. Their self-sustaining, and their wellbeing and their ability to be able to cope with the circumstances they are being presented with, is just something that is really on our heart. We want to continue to do what we can to support their recovery.”

The Salvation Army Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet and work and pay our respect to Elders past, present and future.

We value people of all cultures, languages, capacities, sexual orientations, gender identities and/or expressions. We are committed to providing programs that are fully inclusive. We are committed to the safety and wellbeing of people of all ages, particularly children.

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The Salvation Army is an international movement. Our mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in his name with love and without discrimination.

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