A Family Affair – Veterans Prepare for Gippsland Bushfire Recovery

Disaster Relief Australia | January 2021

dra members chainsaw training

Our Melbourne Disaster Relief Team recently assisted the Latrobe City Council in the Gippsland region, providing bushfire recovery post-Yinnar South bushfires of March 2019. Our members sharpened their chainsaw skills in December 2019 in preparation for an upcoming service project in the region, earmarked for late January 2021.

Chainsaw training key for DRA operational capacity

DRA National Training Coordinator Warwick Lugton believes ongoing training is vital to increasing the organisations operational capacity. “In the Yinnar Valley, we built a foundation of DRA members learning chainsaw skills in a safe environment to perform activities directly benefitting a local farmer, outside the scope of a service project or operation. The removal of fallen trees from his fences and paddocks had impacted his capacity for over three years. He shared with me his previous efforts to clear the fallen trees himself after the fires. A large branch under significant load was released and immediately jettisoned him 10 meters through the air, delivering near-fatal injuries. To say he was grateful for our assistance would be a drastic understatement. This training opportunity would not have been possible without the innovation of Latrobe Council to generate outcomes for bushfire affected communities in the absence of funding.”

Disaster Relief Australia is a family affair

A father and son team attending the training reflected on their DRA experience. “Having a long family history of Military service, the ethic of contributing to your community, and your country was integral to my childhood. I joined the Navy with my older brother in 1970, in the footsteps of my Dad, who was a career soldier as was his father, and grandfather. My wife Michelle and I have three boys of our own, with my oldest son Justin, having just put his hand up to join DRA. Such a proud moment, one of many as Justin has carried forward the commitment to serve others in many ways throughout his life. We have always been committed to voluntary work in one way or another over the years, and DRA has been an ideal fit for our family values, rendering the opportunity to give back to the community. Justin and I are committed to serving wherever and whenever we are needed. To be able to this share experience together is an opportunity to good to be missed. The DRA structure and most all, the people involved are key as to why I want to be involved and bring my family into the tribe, to that end I have even roped in my older brother Geoff, who I joined the Navy all those years ago, who is now a First Responder in regional Victoria.”

“I would encourage anyone looking to be part of an organisation that provides such valuable services to the community to consider DRA for yourself and family members. What a great way to be together.