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Letter From OTA’s CEO on the Australian Bushfires

Our country is on fire.

The lives, communities, wildlife and habitats lost continues to rise. This is a national disaster unlike any we have ever seen. When the fires calm and the smoke has settled, the devastation will remain, the hurt will continue.

As a former Board member of the Country Fire Authority and CEO of Crime Stoppers, I understand the enormous effort and incredible sacrifice and service of our volunteers and emergency services workers during times of crisis—and the toll these events will take during this emergency and long after. And after the fires comes the long road to rebuilding lives and communities.

There is no one in Australia who is not affected by these fires, some directly, some indirectly. Lives and homes have been lost, and people across the country will undoubtedly struggle emotionally with events they have experienced or witnessed. Many of our members will be directly working with communities trying to rebuild their lives and restore their resilience.

Our profession exists to support people engage in activities they find meaningful. I encourage all occupational therapists across the country to do what you can, and contribute where you can to assist people affected by this disaster.

There is a rush of activity to assist communities in dire and urgent need and financial donations are welcomed by volunteer fire agencies across the country, first nations communities, wildlife charities and emergency relief agencies such as the Red Cross. We leave it to you to choose if and where you make your contribution.

As a coordinated approach to recovery becomes apparent, we will assess where we can best collectively make a contribution to assist our communities. Where there is the opportunity we will contribute to enquiries and commissions to ensure better preparedness and better outcomes.

As a profession, we can come together to form a compassionate, hardworking collective that demonstrates a real and positive impact in helping one another heal.

Whilst these incidents continue to unfold over the remainder of the summer, please look after yourselves and each other.

Stay well and stay safe.

Sam Hunter

The World Federation of Occupational Therapists has developed a number of disaster-related training modules and resources which can be found here.

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