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Bushfire families at home with new housing pods

Bushfire families at home with new housing pods

Bushfire families at home with new housing pods

25 June 2020

The Salvation Army is partnering with the NSW Government and the Minderoo Foundation to provide temporary housing pods to help bushfire-affected families stay on their land while they rebuild. (Photos courtesy of the NSW Government.)

By Lauren Martin

The Salvation Army has entered into an initiative with the New South Wales Government and the Minderoo Foundation to provide bushfire-affected families with a temporary home while they rebuild after the ‘Black Summer’ disaster.

“There are people still living under tarps, living in all sorts of displacement,” said Martin Boyle, leader of The Salvation Army Bushfire Recovery Workers team, which has been on the ground working in local communities remotely since February.

Under the initiative, to which The Salvation Army contributed $1.5 million, temporary accommodation ‘pods’, with built-in electricity, water and sewer systems, will be set up on people’s properties for a period of up to two years. The pods are different sizes, depending on the needs of the property owner or size of the family being assisted.

The interior of a family pod (photo courtesy of the NSW Government.)

Lieutenant-Colonel Lyn Edge, Secretary for Mission, said The Salvation Army assisted more than 8000 NSW households during the bushfire response.

“We are providing ongoing support for thousands, including the residents of 2475 houses destroyed. We know those who lost their homes will face a particularly hard road to recovery and that having the stability of a recovery pod will make the journey more manageable.

“We are pleased to be working with the NSW Government and Minderoo Foundation and look forward to stepping further into the provision of additional long-term recovery accommodation in the weeks ahead.

Dr Andrew Forrest AO, Minderoo Foundation Chairman, said the foundation was humbled to play a role in assisting NSW communities devastated by bushfire.

“When our Fire Fund team visited impacted communities across northern and southern NSW shortly after the fires, many people on the ground told us their number-one priority was to be able to stay on their land while they rebuilt. This message drove the innovative thinking that led us to the design of the Minderoo recovery pods.” 

More than 100 pods have already been allocated to families across NSW. Another 60 to 70 are in the process of being constructed.

Once a pod is delivered, Salvation Army outreach workers will continue to journey with individuals and families, providing wrap-around services through its Doorways and Moneycare counselling and relief services, referrals to other agencies for mental health and other support.

“We will be on the ground for the next two years,” said Martin. “Lots of people are suffering, there is lots of displacement, loss of livelihood, mental health is suffering. We are still helping people with clothes, food, electricity, internet connections ... as well as meeting their immediate needs we are there for the long run.”

The Salvation Army mobile bushfire recovery team set-up at Moruya on the NSW South Coast this week.

Face-to-face assistance resumes

With the state government’s COVID-19 restrictions easing, Salvation Army mobile bushfire recovery teams have begun assisting people on the bushfire-hit NSW South Coast in person again this week.

Phone and web-based recovery services continued in all bushfire-impacted regions during the onset of coronavirus, however, personal support and counselling were suspended. The mobile recovery teams will provide emergency financial relief and assess grant applications, as well as offering Moneycare financial counselling and personal support from a Salvation Army officer.

A team set up at Moruya, in the Eurobodalla Shire, on Tuesday 23 June, and will travel to various locations in the Bega Valley Shire from Monday 29 June to Friday 3 July, with other locations to be announced.

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