Wise Up Week

Incredibly, this is Wise Up Week, which is a national fundraising initiative of the Fire Foundation. It is not necessarily the highest-profile initiative, but it is likely to have a much higher profile after this week’s fires, which have ravaged New South Wales and destroyed homes and property. Wise Up Week, which runs from 21 to 27 October, is dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of being fire wise and raising funds to assist those affected by fire and burns. The campaign will raise funds through the sale of fire-wise merchandise, donations and sponsorship of Fun Seeker participants, who wear something orange for a week. I congratulate the member for Menai on her participation as a Fun Seeker. Every person can become involved by buying a merchandise pack, donating money, wearing something orange for a week or by sponsoring a Fun Seeker. If members want more information they can go to www.firefoundation.org.au.

The Fire Foundation provides support to hundreds of families affected every year by bushfires, house fires and other fire incidents. Fire affects many Australians. It can take lives, destroy homes, vehicles and possessions, and it leaves destruction in its wake. The foundation’s role is to support those affected and to help them recover and to rebuild their lives. Fire does not discriminate. The Fire Foundation was established in 2011 by Jodee Wyatt, who was the victim of an early morning Brisbane house fire. She lost her home and almost her life and the lives of her children. Everything Jodee and her family owned was destroyed in the fire. Luckily, she and her children had temporary accommodation with family and were able to borrow clothes and other things to function. Many fire victims do not have the luxury of that support. Because of that life-changing experience, Jodee realised that Australia needed a national organisation to assist fire victims. The Fire Foundation provides emergency packs to families who have lost their homes as a result of fire. Emergency packs include basic essentials such as food, clothing, household items, medical and health supplies and other necessary items.

The foundation also arranges temporary accommodation. This support is designed to help affected families to cope immediately after the event and to assist them to start the recovery process. It also provides guidance and support and connects families with other fire victims to foster an environment of support and understanding. It provides people with an opportunity to communicate with others who have experienced a similar tragedy. It also offers counselling. The Fire Foundation relies on the support of the community to deliver its services. We can help by donating money, products and time. We can also help by raising funds, supporting foundation events, including a bequest in our will, providing sponsorship or purchasing merchandise. Volunteers are needed and are integral to the Fire Foundation’s delivery of programs and campaigns. Volunteering is a positive way for members of the community to assist Australians affected by fire and burns, and there will be plenty of people looking for support in the coming weeks and months.

The Fire Foundation advises the qualifications needed for volunteers are enthusiasm and a desire to help—things I am sure we can find within ourselves. The foundation is also passionate about promoting fire safety and prevention in the community and advocating for the use of the safest possible fire products. Fire safety saves lives and reduces the impact of fire. Some tips from the Fire Foundation on implementing precautions to protect ourselves include making sure that we have an evacuation plan—we do not plan house fires but we can plan to escape and survive; installing only photoelectric smoke alarms because they detect smoke faster than ionisation smoke alarms; regularly checking that alarms are working; turning off appliances at the wall when they are not in use; taking care in cooking areas such as in kitchens and around barbecues; and purchasing fire blankets and fire extinguishers for our homes. Please support Wise Up Week and wise up to fire.