** Last updated 28 Jan 2020 **
These responses to frequently asked questions will be updated over time as we better understand the questions people have about the environmental volunteering response to the bushfires.
How will this work?
Conservation Volunteers has been called on by the Australian Government to connect people with volunteering opportunities for wildlife and habitat recovery. With a 38 year history of community engagement and safe volunteering in the environment, our role is to get the community involved in the environmental recovery effort.
Our role is to work with partners throughout Australia to identify what volunteer support is needed for environmental recovery efforts, and then match this need with your skills and availability.
For information and opportunities, please register for more information on our Bushfire Recovery page.
How will you identify what help is needed?
Given our experience in disaster response and recovery action for bushfires, floods, earthquakes and oil spills, we know that every response has it’s similarities and differences. We are working to ensure that all recovery efforts we connect people with will be based in good practice for environmental outcomes, safety, and leads to a sustainable recovery.
The bushfire crisis is in different phases in different places. There is significant identification and prioritisation which has to happen, which is largely conducted on ground and person-to-person, working through established networks of organisations and community groups. In addition, groups can register for support with us here.
CVA is involved in this work, and in addition some of it is being conducted by the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, and some will also be coordinated by varied organisations in the environmental sector (like Natural Resource Management bodies).
Who might I be helping?
There are a wide variety of organisations involved in recovery efforts including local councils, environment groups, citizen science projects, land managers, wildlife sanctuaries and many others.
Recovery activities could include many activities, such as constructing nesting boxes, planting trees, helping to control soil erosion, wildlife monitoring, and perhaps even contributing to citizen science activities from your couch.
When can I get started?
Initially we will be sharing information and opportunities weekly through the newsletter (which you can sign up for here).
The bushfire recovery will be a marathon, not a sprint. We need your energy and support over the weeks, months and years ahead for recovery activities. We also recognise that some people feel urgency around getting involved, and we hope to have a series of opportunities available in the short term as well.
Why don’t you just set up a Facebook Group?
We recognise the draw to this idea, however disaster response and recovery sometimes needs us all to slow down to speed up. By this we mean that some bushfire affected areas are not safe to enter, and need to be properly assessed before people do so. In the aftermath of the bushfires, there is not only the fire to be concerned about, but also the structural damage to buildings, damaged trees which may fall or drop limbs, and much more to consider. Safety and volunteer experience are a primary concern.
When opportunities are posted in an ‘open marketplace’ like a Facebook Group, often small environmental groups, which are crucial to the recovery, get swamped with enquiries and are unable to do their work. Instead, CVA will be matching their needs with the volunteers who can help them, at the right time, and in the right numbers.
Can you pay for me to come and volunteer?
Firstly, thank you so much for your desire to travel to support the recovery efforts.
At this time, CVA cannot fund the cost of flights, travel, accommodation, food and the likes, of the huge number of people from Australia and around the world who want to be involved in the recovery efforts.
It is important that funding is directed to support the domestic volunteering recovery effort that supports local communities to recover and for people in non-affected areas to support through activities which benefit those areas.
We do expect to have opportunities in the future which support people to travel to bushfire affected areas (once they’re safe to enter) for residential programs which enable volunteer work which fire affected communities need support with.
Can you help with visas?
Unfortunately we are unable to advise you about visa options, as this is not something we assist with. We suggest you visit the Australian Department of Immigration website for information.