Volunteers are set to visit Wellington business owners to offer support around the emotional impacts of bushfire, drought and Covid-19.
Members of the Victorian Council of Churches Emergencies Ministry will offer face-to-face support visits from Monday 1 February until Wednesday 3 February in Dargo, Heyfield, Maffra, Rosedale, Stratford and Yarram.
Since 1977, the VCCEM has been engaged by the state government to provide support to disaster-affected people, providing counselling and support services. VCCEM work includes caring for those affected by the Ash Wednesday bushfire, Gippsland Floods, Black Saturday bushfires and the Bourke Street Massacre.
The organisation also played a role at the Sale relief centre during the 2020 East Gippsland Fires.
A recent Wellington Shire Council survey found that many businesses owners felt they needed some form of well-being assistance. As providers of State Health Emergency Response Plan-recognised psychosocial support, the VCCEM has been made available by Council to listen to the issues people are facing and provide practical assistance, including liaising with government departments and reconnecting people with loved ones.
VCCEM volunteers are drawn from Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Koori, Maori and Sikh communities and provide support to all, regardless of belief, culture, ethnicity, gender identification or race.
Each town will receive an introductory visit followed by detailed support on request. The shire’s Business and Tourism Associations will also be able to tap the resources of the VCCEM and volunteers will visit BTA representatives when conducting town visits.
Volunteers will have mental health material available as well as information on that support Council can offer business owners including the Middle of Everywhere campaign and its push to help locals expand their businesses and attract investment.
Sale businesses are instead receiving support from the Sale Business and Tourism Association.