Archived News Item

Disaster Recovery Chaplains bring comfort to bushfire evacuees

Helen Law RSM with an orphaned joey at the Taree Evacuation Centre


With large parts of Australia continuing to experience devastating bush fires, many sisters are lending a hand including fulfilling the role of Disaster Recovery Chaplains. 


For 10 years, Helen Law RSM has been a part of the trained Disaster Recovery Chaplain Network. She has just returned from a week at the Kempsey Evacuation Centre in New South Wales and before that she spent four days at the Taree Evacuation Centre, following bushfires in nearby areas.


Helen said the massive impact of these fires is evidenced by the fact that at the Taree Evacuation Centre alone there were 700 people taking refuge.


“There were many cups of tea and many conversations with evacuees.


“My role was to support and provide comfort to evacuees in a time of grief, despair and great sadness,” she said.


Helen said that all she needed to do was to ask someone, “Where are you from?” and that would start the conversation and allow her to provided much-needed comfort.


Being part of the Network means that Helen can be deployed to disasters that are either close to home, or further afield.


“The call to Taree happened quite fast.


“I received a text at 9pm, a phone call at 10pm and was on the road the next morning at 6am on my way to Taree.


“Ministering to people who are suffering severe loss, grief, uncertainty and anxiety is indeed a privilege,” said Helen, “but returning home and letting-go for me is a challenge!”.


“I need time for rest, but also time to allow my psyche and emotions to debrief the pain I’ve experienced.


“I am very thankful to all who have supported me in this very Mercy ministry,” said Helen.


There are still so many bushfires burning across the Australia that Helen anticipates another deployment before Christmas.


The Disaster Recovery Network is a national network of Chaplains that can be called upon in times of disaster.  This Network reaches all across Australia and includes other Sisters of Mercy from far and wide. The Network was established after the Black Saturday fires in Victoria in 2009.  That disaster highlighted the need to have a network of professionally trained and commissioned non-denominational Chaplains who could assist in the time of disaster.


If you would like to support those impacted by these devastating fires, you can do so at  –

Taree bushfire on 8 November. Source: Danielle Grundy


Messages to:  Helen Law RSM


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