Bushfire recovery with BlazeAid
The Hazara Shamama Association Inc and Calma Group invite you to help BlazeAid support farming communities to rebuild after the bushfires.
What is BlazeAid and what do they do?
BlazeAid is a volunteer-based organisation that works with families and individuals in rural Australia after natural disasters such as fires and floods.
Working alongside the rural families, volunteers help to rebuild fences and other structures that have been damaged or destroyed.
The families BlazeAid assists are really grateful for the work, support and friendship of BlazeAid’s volunteers.
Who started BlazeAid?
Victorian farmers Kevin and Rhonda Butler started BlazeAid after the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.
Who funds BlazeAid?
BlazeAid is a 100% Australian charity.
BlazeAid relies entirely on donations and does not receive any direct government funding.
Donors will receive receipts for tax-deductible donations.
Where does BlazeAid operate?
BlazeAid currently helps farmers in NSW, VIC, TAS, QLD, WA & SA. If they are needed in ACT or NT in the future they will be ready to lend a hand there too.
How can you get involved?
You don’t need any fencing experience, just a willingness to give it a go and learn on the job.
You can volunteer for a day or two, or a week or more. Some people volunteer for several months.
Not all of the fencing involves heavy work. Many fences need to be cleared of debris before they can be stood up and rebuilt. For new fences, the wires need to be run through the holes in the posts, and posts need to be held in place while the sighting is done.
Volunteers can be between 12 and 85 years old.
Volunteers are working with wire and other debris, so please ensure that your Tetanus injection is up to date.
Flies and mosquitoes will also be around, so make sure you bring insect repellent.
What is a typical day like?
At each base camp there is a meeting called the ‘Morning Muster’ after breakfast around 7.30 each morning.
At Morning Muster, you’ll join a fencing team, with a Team Leader who knows how to fence. The Camp Coordinator will welcome everyone, and run through a Safety Talk, then you’ll head out with your team.
Volunteer teams are encouraged to car-pool to get to the workplace they’re working on. If you’re driving your car to a workplace, please check with the Team Leader about road conditions and decide whether you want to take your vehicle.
During the day, you’ll work side-by-side with the owner of the property to help clear debris and rebuild or replace fences then return to base camp to relax and chat before dinner.
On days of high temperatures, the teams usually start earlier and finish earlier, to avoid the worst of the day’s heat.
Other ways to help
If you are not able to do fencing work, there are often other jobs to do around the base camp, including cleaning, catering and working in the tool shed.
Please contact the Hazara Shamama Association or BlazeAid directly if you would like to contribute in other ways.
Some other ways to help include donating food, materials, tools, fuel vouchers or providing transport of tools and equipment to and from base camps.
How do I get started?
Please contact the Hazara Shamama Association or BlazeAid directly and let them know when you are available to volunteer.
The Hazara Shamama Association will contact the Camp Coordinator a few days before you plan to arrive so that you can be put into a fencing team and your meals and accommodation can be arranged.
There are fencing teams out every day of the week, Monday to Sunday, including public holidays.
If you volunteer full time with BlazeAid you are encouraged to have one or two days off a week.
What does BlazeAid provide for volunteers?
– A site for your tent / caravan
– Toilets and hot showers
– All meals
– PPE gear
Who provides the fencing materials?
The farmers usually provide their own fencing materials. BlazeAid re-use and recycle as much of the old wire, posts, etc as possible. Sometimes, they receive donated fencing materials, which are distributed on a needs-basis. If the farmers can’t afford to buy fencing materials BlazeAid might be able to use the donated fencing materials on their property.
Centrelink and Fair Work
BlazeAid is registered with Centrelink. There have been changes to the policy for volunteers to meet their job-search requirements (it is no longer limited to volunteers over 55 years of age). Please contact Centrelink to discuss your circumstances.
BlazeAid is a registered disaster-relief organisation, so people employed under the Fair Work awards may be eligible to have time away from work to volunteer with BlazeAid for five days.
Volunteers are strongly advised to have Ambulance Cover when they go to the basecamps. BlazeAid have Volunteer Insurance (not WorkCover) for incidents that occur while you are working. However, if you need an ambulance for any incident that isn’t covered by insurance, you could face a bill for thousands of dollars.
While working for Blazeaid volunteers aged 12 to 85 years old are covered under Blazeaid’s volunteer insurance.
Please note that Volunteers who work for property owners outside of Blazeaid camps will NOT be covered under Blazeaid volunteer insurance. You need to organise your own insurance or make sure you are covered under the property owner’s insurance.