It has been revealed that in the wake of the devastating Australian bush fire crisis at the end of 2019 and the start of 2020 that AB Volvo donated $600,000 to the Australian Red Cross to aid those affected by the worst Australian bushfire season on record.

Now 18 months after those bushfires ravaged large parts of Australia, devastating lives, families and property, the fresh shoots of recovery are emerging.

Against the backdrop of a global COVID-19 pandemic the Australian Red Cross has been quietly helping families in fire affected communities rebuild their homes, their lives and providing mental health support.

In a statement this week Volvo Group Australia boss Martin Merrick said this week that he was proud to be a part of an organisation that supports humanitarian causes like this.

“To be able to see the progress and recovery of these communities due to the hard work of the Australian Red Cross is both rewarding and humbling,” said Martin Merrick.

“At Volvo Group we often talk about shaping the world we want to live in, that doesn’t only extend to building clean, efficient vehicles, it’s also about supporting the communities that sustain us,” he added.

“I look forward to seeing those rural and coastal communities devastated by this disaster, rebuild, recover and flourish in the future.”

In the statement  Volvo said that in the last year and half  the Red Cross has helped 32,039 people through 604 psychosocial support activities including individual support, community events, support groups, and anniversary events. It added that 2,846 people were supported with 168 recovery training and workshops. 975 people participated in 29 community resilience workshops.

“Red Cross weren’t just there to hand out money. They were there to listen… and that was really nice… They helped by making their grant process easy… Then we’d get phone calls from Red Cross, checking in on us. And all of that definitely helped us,” said Janet, who along with her young family lost their home in the Nambucca Valley inNSW.

“I’m glad we didn’t get the money all in one big hit or early, because we weren’t in the right headspace early on… we needed that time to just sit back, breathe, take in what’s just happened to us, and then work out a game plan.  “We used every cent that we received from Red Cross to get shelter… We would not have been able to do that without the help of Red Cross and people donating to them.

“Every day you’re reminded… even 12 months later, you go to get something and then you go, ‘Oh, that’s right. I’ve lost that in the fires.’ It brings up a lot of trauma, and it’s good to talk about it. We’ve been really lucky to have Red Cross. They were out here for so long, just to sit and chat.

“I was exhausted all the time. I feel like I still am. It’s like I still haven’t caught up. I’m still dealing with the fire stuff, and then I’ve had the storms and the flooding on top of COVID… it’s just been non-stop for almost two years. “Red Cross are always there if you needed them… you see the red shirts with tea and coffee waiting for you, and I felt like that was a gentle approach. I’ve found that really good.”

Volvo says that to date, the Australian Red Cross has disbursed $224 million dollars in aid to victims of the bushfire crisis with a further $18 million allocated towards ongoing projects and grants.