On Wednesday 16th March, VCC Emergencies Ministry deployed its first interstate team to Northern NSW to support the recovery efforts after the recent flood events. This deployment came about as the result of a request from the NSW Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network (DRCN) as a partner in the Australia Volunteer Emergency Chaplaincy Alliance (AVECA) and was a historical occasion.
The current deployment of VCCEM volunteers is the first time this partnership has been put into action, although discussions on creating such an alliance began over 11 years ago. In early 2011, widespread damage across large areas of Queensland caused by flooding and cyclone Yasi required an almost unprecedented level of need across the state. Around this time, discussions began between Rev Dr Stephen Robinson (NSW) and the Rev Stuart Stuart (Vic) about creating an alliance such as AVECA. This alliance was not formalised until 2014, with the inaugural meeting of AVECA held in 2016, formed with the support of the National Council of Churches Australia.
On 11th March 2022, DRCN formally requested VCC EM to provide a team of 6 volunteers for an 8-day deployment travelling up to the Byron Bay area on Wednesday 16th March and returning on the 23rd March. At this stage, a second team of VCC EM volunteers will follow after the first deployment. As an ecumenical program, members on the first team come from the Baptist, Catholic Churches, CRC along with Chaplaincy Australia. The second team draws members from the Uniting Church, Welsh Church, and Orthodox traditions.
On the day of departure, the volunteers were asked for their thoughts on the deployment.
- I’m feeling very blessed to have the opportunity to go and hopefully make a difference in someone’s life
- It’s exciting to be doing something completely different, ministering to people who are really struggling
- Part of the first team to go to NSW, in a lot of ways I wish we weren’t needed but it’s great to go and be of help”
- I’m really looking forward to flying the flag for our wonderful organisation and be able to represent the beautiful volunteers that make up VCC EM
- I feel very privileged to be invited to go. I think that VCC EM is very important to me and one way in which we cannot just share ourselves but listen to and walk with people in their time of need”
I’m excited to be part of this group. I thought at first that most people send money but it doesn’t always go to the right places and I can’t always give money but I count myself blessed and honoured to be given the opportunity to give my time and try to be Jesus with skin on to the people who need it most
We were blessed to have Andrew Crisp, the Victorian Emergency Management Commissioner, attend Melbourne airport to help send our first team on their way.
VCC EM CEO, Kellie Shewring reflected “It was a truly exciting and historic day for our organisation to be given the opportunity to support the flood affected communities of Northern NSW and our DRCN colleagues to provide compassion in times of crisis. Thank you and blessings to our incredible volunteers who embark on this historic journey!”
We look forward to sharing more about their interstate deployment in the near future
Michael Downing. Workforce Manager