Deploying to Tathra on Op Dawes is my second response effort with Team Rubicon to date after also serving on Op Dunlop last year, where we assisted the town of Proserpine in Queensland with recovery following Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
Driving into town the first thing I noticed was the difference in the devastation between a Cyclone and the Bushfires.
The contrast was evident in the way that Tropical Cyclone Debbie just absolutely destroyed everything within the affected regions, whereas the Bushfire that impacted Tathra was so very centralised, and only inflicted damage to specific parts of the town.
Personally, it’s a rare experience that after just meeting an almost entirely unknown crew (maybe 3 or 4 who I knew from Proserpine) I felt incredibly welcomed straight away and able to get stuck in working comfortably and cooperatively as a team from the outset.
The next morning after receiving a daily briefing and our taskings, we headed straight out on into the community with the aim to make a positive difference in people’s lives during a time of need, and the strong community spirit reminded me so much of what I’d experienced in Proserpine.
Consistently we would arrive to help a resident doing it tough, only for them to ask us to visit the next street or a couple of houses down instead, and to aid someone who in their eyes needed assistance more than themselves or had experienced much more damage than what they had.
The generosity of the local businesses has also been amazing, with a common willingness to donate their own resources in order to help provide us with food & accommodation while we worked. We were accommodated by the Surf Life Saving Club and had our meals at the Tathra Beach Bowling Club. There were regular offers of Coffees and Hot Cross Buns for greyshirts, and other things from the bakery and local business grateful for our efforts .
Everything about this community reminded me so much of the ‘never defeated’ spirit of Proserpine and the feeling of purpose and belonging that I had experienced there. I know that I made the right decision to come down to Tathra with Team Rubicon. To once again be part of such an amazing experience has proven to me the value and the impact of what we are able to offer, and to achieve through ongoing service.
Following a wave of destruction left by a storm front across the state of Victoria, both regional and metropolitan areas have suffered extensive damage. The Dandenong Ranges have been the subject of disastrous weather causing extensive treefall resulting in property damage, significant impact on power supply and multiple road closures. Fallen trees and collapsed power lines have restricted mobility and services providing impediment to freedom of movement while cutting off basic communication platforms and hampering the overall recovery effort. Veteran led volunteer organisation, Disaster Relief Australia has announced an initiative to provide crucial assistance to devastated Dandenong residents. Operation Joynt (named for Lieutenant Colonel William Donovan Joynt), will commence 3rd July and roll over a series of weekends in July. DRA frequently deploys a nationwide volunteer workforce to aid disaster impacted Australian communities. COVID-19 continues to roadblock the organisation’s desire to help Australian’s when they need it most. Melbourne Disaster Relief Team Manager, Kyran Byrne says his team is determined to bring real hands-on help where it’s needed most. “Our teammates in the Melbourne DRT (disaster relief team) have endured a tough 18 months with COVID-19 lockdowns. We have been separated from friends, families and the communities we assist by virtue of the fact of where we live. All of us in DRA are motivated by helping others, putting others before self, and demonstrating the true Australian virtue of mateship. When others are doing it tough – we come to help. That internal passion to help burns deep in our members, they are always willing to go that bit further for others. It is hard to extinguish the flame once it’s lit and in the Melbourne DRT, we have taken all that adversity and used it as fuel to motivate ourselves and our teammates. We have an opportunity to get out and do what we do best, tough it out, give of ourselves, and show what Disaster Relief Australia, Victorians and Australians are made of… time to get amongst it.” As disaster seasons intensify and overlap, DRA can only deploy crucial recovery services like Operation Joynt with strong links from the local community. For Operation Joynt, DRA will collaborate with Rotary – Emerald & District and their Dandenong Ranges task force called “Help the Hills”. Full operation information: Operation Joynt
Due to the recent COVID-19 complications in NSW, we are unfortunately required to put Operation Corkhill Phase 2 on hold until further notice. This is the second pause we have been forced to endure in the region due to COVID-19. Our commitment to providing help and hope to Bega Valley Shire LGA residents has not wavered and we remain committed to returning as soon as possible to pick up where we left off.