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Midnight meals and love in action at the Victorian bushfires

Brimbank Corps Officer Captain Chad Cole and SAES volunteer Maria Varelas at the Dareel bushfire staging ground in Victoria.



As bushfires continue to burn in Victoria’s north and west, Salvation Army teams are assisting emergency services crews and those affected by the crisis.


Central Victoria Salvos Team Leader Ronald Stobie and his team have been operating the Maryborough Relief Centre since authorities opened it seven days ago when bushfires threatened homes and caused evacuations in the state’s north-west.


“The team is doing quite well; they have been astounding in jumping in and lending a hand,” said Ronald, adding that The Salvation Army’s presence from day one has been showing the love of God in action: “Many of our team are people of faith and are connected in that way and we can show that this is why we’re here, this is what we believe in – we believe in good. So, we want to do what we can to support our community.”

Ronald said he was grateful to supermarket chain Coles after accepting a generous donation from the Maryborough store, and also for donations from Woolworths (groceries) and Crown Resorts (15 pallets of material aid), which helped with the Maryborough Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES) team’s relief efforts.

Some of the Central Victoria Salvos Emergency Services team: Bill Conway, Sav, Captain Ronald Stobie and Steve Desmond.

The Maryborough SAES team has also been supported by members of other SAES crews, and nearby Salvation Army corps at Delacombe and Ararat have also been activated during the bushfire crisis.


Greater Grampians Salvos Corps Officer Captain Lynne Turnbull and her small team have been running the relief centre at the Ararat Recreation Centre for the past week.


She said it’s been a beautiful opportunity to partner with generous community members to serve those in need: “We have had lots of offers from different restaurants to help out feeding people. The Lions Club did a barbecue, Dominos did pizzas, and the footy club cooked schnitzels and chips. We have supplemented with things like salad and breads, and we have been making lunches and breakfasts.”


Her team has had a busy start to the year, helping out with bushfires near Stawell earlier in the month. “We have been flat out for a few weeks now,” she said, “but I think it’s really good to see communities come together and for people to be able to offer help and work alongside us. It’s a great country community.”


Last night, a new fire at Dereel saw hundreds of firefighters in action, and The Salvation Army’s SAES was called to provide dinner – at 1am – to 400 first responders. Emergency Services Response Coordinator Carolyn Spratling was still cooking at lunchtime today.


First responders enjoy dinner at 1am served by The Salvation Army Emergency Services team at the Dareel fire staging ground in Victoria.

“That fire broke out right on dinner time, so firefighters hadn’t actually had their dinner when they had gotten onto their trucks,” she said. “They have four-hour ration packs to get them through four hours. But then they realised that they needed us there; the fire was going longer.”


She said the firefighters were very happy to see the SAES large catering truck when they entered the staging ground for a hot fish and chips or pasta evening meal. The team then served breakfast and lunch, and crews continued to work on the blaze.




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