Fire & Flood Resilience09 Nov 2022

New volunteer corps helps Australians prepare for fires and floods

Volunteers across NRMA’s network are mobilising this week for the inaugural National Day of Help.

Australian Resilience Corps volunteers
Australian Resilience Corps volunteers’ helping to clear fuel loads. Photo Credit: Emma Dolzadelli.

A new volunteer initiative, the Australian Resilience Corps (The Corps), is deploying volunteers across the country to help communities prepare for fires and floods, following a year of successive extreme weather events.

The volunteer deployment is part of NRMA Insurance’s inaugural National Day of Help which will see over a thousand of their employees working with community partners like The Corps and Australian Red Cross to help with preparedness and resilience activities in communities across the country.

Developed by Minderoo Foundation and founding partner NRMA Insurance, The Corps connects people with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to assist at-risk communities. The NRMA Insurance volunteers will participate in preparedness activities around Australia throughout this week – including the Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, Central Coast, and the Southern Highlands in NSW, as well as Perth, Melbourne, and Brisbane – to help communities lift their resilience to natural disasters.

Nadine De Santis, Australian Resilience Corps Project Lead, said volunteers play a pivotal role in helping their communities adapt to and prepare for a changing climate and the natural threats that come with it.

“If we can lift the resilience of communities across the country, we can reduce the risk of devastation from another Black Summer Fire or East Coast flooding event,” Ms De Santis said.
“We can’t do this without the help of volunteers.”

Volunteers will undertake various tasks including helping elderly homeowners clear overgrowth to create fire breaks and escape routes should their home be threatened by a bushfire; removing fuel loads around critical infrastructure like telecommunications tower; or learning about how to support communities facing flood or fire risk with their resilience planning.

The program of volunteer activities has been made possible by NGOs including Disaster Relief Australia, Habitat for Humanity Australia, Australian Citizen Science Association and Resilient Cities Catalyst.

Extreme weather events are happening more frequently and with greater severity. Research shows Australia’s bushfire season now lasts for 130 days a year, an increase of 20 per cent in the last 40 years. The number of climate-related disasters in our region, such as floods and cyclones, has almost doubled in the last 20 years, compared to the previous 20 years. “Australia is staring down the barrel of threats posed by climate-related disasters that we are just not ready for,” Ms De Santis said.

“The Australian Resilience Corps is growing the country’s largest network of volunteers focused on helping communities prepare before the next fire or flood occurs.”Now is the time to focus on resilience to break out of the cycle of response and recovery. We need to change the culture in our country and make year on year preparation the norm.”

The NRMA Insurance Help Economy™️ report released today shows the economic value of unpaid help has increased to $32 billion with Australians spending 1.4 billion hours helping others over the past year.

NRMA Insurance spokesperson Zara Curtis said, “The NRMA Insurance Help Economy™️ report highlights the impact severe weather is having on communities, with nearly a third of Australians or someone they know, experiencing a severe weather event or natural disaster over the last six months.

“The report shows a gap between Australians needing help, and those wanting to provide help, with 7.7 million people wanting to help, but not knowing how. We hope to bridge that gap through working with community partners such as the Australian Resilience Corps, showing people how they can help through initiatives such as today’s National Day of Help. Simple acts of help make a big difference in preparing communities for future weather events.” Ms Curtis said.

Volunteerism is at an all-time low, with a Volunteering Australia study showing that in 2021 only 20 per cent of people actively volunteer in their communities, down from 29 per cent in 2019.

The Corps is calling on all Australians – private citizens and businesses alike – to join the volunteer network and help reduce the harm caused by fires and floods before they happen.

Join the Australian Resilience Corps today: www.resiliencecorps.org.au
To view NRMA Insurance Help Economy™️ report, visit: www.nrma.com.au/helpeconomy

Minderoo Foundation
by Minderoo Foundation

Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.

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