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At the beginning of this new decade we were challenged by the devastating effects of the bushfires throughout Australia. Stark images of loss of life, property and the natural environment were consistently played across our screens. Thousands of people were displaced, and were surrounded in smoke, ash and flames. The generosity of people from throughout the country reaching out offering to assist in these times was unprecedented.

Our focus was then quickly turned to Covid-19, a pandemic spreading around the world in a very short time. We were in places we had never been before. People were dying of the virus for which there is no vaccine, we learned and practised the reality of social distancing, our borders were closed, educational institutions were closed and long queues were seen outside Employment Agencies.

May 18th -24th is National Volunteer Week with the theme “Changing Communities, Changing Lives”. This theme takes on both a new meaning and a different understanding as we live in this time post the national bushfires and in the presence of Covid-19. In spite of this, our interaction and service of people has continued, but is exercised differently.

“Changing Communities, Changing Lives” has certainly pushed us forward to take on a myriad of new ways to continue our volunteer work at this time. The general outreach of caring and communication has risen to new levels and is offering hope, companionship and comfort via phone calls, emails, Zoom communication, regulated visits to the aged or writing letters, just to mention a few avenues. Here are some groups and individuals who continue to be supported by our volunteers:

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Organizing home deliveries for housebound  
ACRATH ministry
Staff, Ex-Staff and Ex-students
Disaster Relief Chaplaincy Network (DRCN)
Spiritual Direction
St Vincent de Paul, organizing food vouchers, clothing etc
Supporting those in Aged Care facilities
Ecumenical Prison Ministry for women affected by having a family member in prison
University of the Third Age
Music education
Teaching English to Migrants