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Following a disaster, our spirit of generosity and desire to help those impacted is a wonderful thing. However, we need to be careful that we only donate things that are actually needed by our impacted communities.
Locals are already doing what they do best and looking after people around them who have been hit by these horrific fires. NSW Government agencies along with charity partners and local community organisations are helping to provide emergency shelter, food and water.
The best way to help our impacted communities is to donate money to one of the many charities or appeals that have been established. Money gives people the choice to buy things they need and support local businesses that have also been impacted.
Please do not donate physical goods such as toys, furniture and clothes at this time. They are usually not needed and fill up local community spaces while taking volunteers away from other important tasks.
If you have unwanted physical goods please consider selling them (perhaps have a garage sale) and donating the proceeds instead.
Volunteers make an enormous contribution before, during and after natural disasters and other emergencies in NSW. Without these volunteers many people may have lost their lives, their homes or have taken much longer to get back on their feet after being involved in a natural disaster or other emergency.
Volunteers can be involved in directly dealing with the emergency through roles such as firefighting, rescue or storm recovery, or through important support roles like catering, communications and transport.
A list of volunteer opportunities are listed below. You can contact an agency directly, or go to the Office of Volunteering for information on these and other organisations.
Becoming a volunteer should occur before an emergency happens - you will be contacting the organisation at a time when they have time to answer your questions, evaluate your request and offer training. During an event they may not have time to distract resources from where they are most needed.
NSW Volunteering has current information on the Types of volunteering, Getting started, Volunteers stories, Recognition and awards and much more.
The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) relies on volunteer fire fighters. The RFS has over 70,000 volunteers across NSW who attend bush fires and other emergencies. There is a role for almost everyone, from firefighting to communications, community engagement, logistics or aviation support.
The NSW State Emergency Service has more than 10,000 volunteers based at 228 locations throughout NSW. These volunteers assist their communities during floods, storms and other emergencies.
Fire & Rescue NSW relies on over 7,100 volunteers who form the Community Fire Unit program. This program trains and equips residents of communities in bushfire prone areas to prepare their homes and reduce bushfire risk. The 577 Community Fire Units also assist with ember extinguishment following a bushfire.
St John Ambulance provides training to first aid volunteers.
The Volunteer Rescue Association (VRA) is an affiliation of 63 community based rescue squads accredited by the NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services to provide primary rescue services. The VRA provides general land, motor vehicle, industrial, rural, vertical (high angle), inland water (rivers, dams, etc), caves, underwater (search and recovery), wilderness, aerial observation, alpine search and rescue and communications.
The NSW Ambulance works with over 130 Honorary Ambulance Officers who, along with paid staff, provide first aid to the sick and injured as well as first aid response to incidents in remote areas of NSW.
Volunteers in Policing (VIPs) provide a range of administrative voluntary tasks which are not competitive with established police roles. Around 800 VIPs perform duties at 120 locations across the state. VIPs assist Police in victim support, customer service, supporting witnesses in attending court and in the promotion of crime prevention initiatives including maintenance of local community registers.
Marine Rescue NSW supplies three core services: Search and rescue for marine emergencies; Boating safety education and training; Radio coverage along NSW coastline.
The Housing Contact Centre provide assisstance with housing.