By Claire Ottaviano
THE impact of BlazeAid on the communities of Wooroloo and Gidgegannup cannot be measured in the thousands of kilometres of fencing erected or in the months of hard labour given.
It is measured by the profound impact on the mental wellbeing of a community touched by bushfire, a measure that is difficult to quantify.
But in numbers, 356 volunteers gave 2700 hours to rebuild 132kms of lost fencing across 168 properties in the Wooroloo Bushfire scar.
BlazeAid is a volunteer organisation working to not only rebuild physical parts of lost properties, such as fences, but also to aid in the mental recovery of the community as they interact with property owners along the way.
Volunteer and Glen Forrest resident Rocky Harding has been supporting the team several days a week for the past four months.
“The volunteers are all there for one reason, for the property owners,” she said.
“The most rewarding part is to see the property owners faces when the fencing is done.
“It gives them belonging, they may not have a house, the shed might be gone, but they have fences where they can see their boundaries and it gives them belonging.”
Volunteers usually stay with BlazeAid for months at a time, living in trailers and caravans at designated basecamps, but in the case of Wooroloo given its proximity to a major capital City, many travelled from the metro area each day to help.
Camp coordinator Jo Delaney said the diversity of property uses and the hilly, rocky terrain of the region was a distinguishing feature of the project.
“Volunteers have commented on all the recognition and gratitude shown to them over the past two months or so as we started to finish fences and our signs went up,” she said.
“One property owner told volunteers our signs on the fences were like a warm hug for the community.
“We’ve received a lot of donations to continue our work here but the simple gestures of gratitude are very moving and enough for the volunteers to keep coming back to help.”