In her volunteer role with the Australian Red Cross, Bronwyn has been working alongside the disaster recovery services in the Hawkesbury community to help people access emergency services grants and medical assistance, as well as providing Psychological First Aid to those in need of support.
"This is the third flood in three years, and we're now seeing the cumulative effect of multiple disasters in this area since 2019 – bushfires, floods and COVID," Bronwyn says.
"Community disaster recovery takes 3-5 years, however as the Hawkesbury region is now in the fourth year of cumulative disasters, we don't know how long the recovery will take as this event is unprecedented. All sectors of the community have been impacted– local residents are again cleaning-up debris and litter, while primary producers and tourist operators along the Hawkesbury River and Bilpin have been hit financially."
Bronwyn has been with Remedy since August 2021 as a Community Physiotherapist in Western Sydney, before joining Remedy, Bronwyn worked as a Bushfire Community Recovery Officer with the Australian Red Cross. Over the past three years she's been actively involved in the community recovery and relief efforts for the floods and the 2019/2020 bushfires.
"When I'm not wearing my Remedy uniform, I'm in my Red Cross volunteer uniform", she says.
Bronwyn thanked Australian Unity for its initiative to dollar match all donations made by employees to the Australian Red Cross to support flood affected communities.
"It will be a long recovery journey for impacted communities so Red Cross grants will be an essential part of this physical and emotional recovery process which takes years," said Bronwyn.
What's been your best experience as a volunteer?
Having a "Cuppa and Chat" with those impacted by a disaster or trauma and explaining to them how the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol impact on the body, mind and thinking, and that recovery takes years. So often the person's face lights up as they exclaim, "so what I am feeling is normal!" I then let them know that exercising selfcare must be a part of their recovery plan so that these hormones are reduced, which allows for clearer thinking and better decision making, and it reduces risk of developing chronic diseases.
How does Australian Unity support you with your volunteering?
During this flood I have assisted at the Evacuation Centre on the North Richmond side of the river (the western side). With approval from my manager, I have had access to Community Leave and then Compassionate Leave entitlements, which I am grateful for as it allows me to support my community. I have also had welfare checks and messages from both my Team Leader and Manager which were really appreciated. Thank you to AU and Remedy for supporting me in this role.