Category Archives: Australian bushfires

Australia’s St Elmo’s Fire is a Test

This poem came from inspiration about the Australian bushfires and homelessness.

Notable excerpt from The Big Issue article below:

Fire has destroyed 8.4 million hectares of land in southern and eastern Australia, an area bigger than Scotland. And despite heroic efforts by thousands of firefighters and volunteers the relentless, unpredictable and fast-changing blazes have killed at least 26 people, more than a billion animals, and destroyed over 2,000 homes.

Refer Big Issue for homeless people in fires. https://www.bigissue.com/latest/how-are-homeless-people-in-australia-affected-by-the-bushfires-down-under/

There are over 116,000 people homeless in Australia.

The poem I felt inspired to write reveals the importance of fires in nature to clear the old to make way for renewable growth within us.

The poem rekindles the Australian spirit of who we really are when in crisis. The real phoenix is our rebuilding who we are as a nation.

Einstein said:

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. We have to think anew”

This is the sound track that came to me when I named the poem.

Australia’s St Elmo’s Fire is the Test

 

The burning bush,

Is not a winter burn off,

It is not seasonal regeneration,

But a towering inferno of epic proportion,

Smoke billowing blanking out the blue sky,

As communities are under siege,

Seeking to defend property,

Unaware our right to property is the real fire storm,

So help me God!

A climate of change in government is not responsive to the real ecological crisis,

A climate of change in business is not responsive to sustainability as they aim for more growth with less,

Yet it is market based economics that is the red hot ember that won’t go out of season,

Cutting public services as under growth is neglected,

For they cannot see the forests for the wood,

Nature is a raw material costed for production not a natural wonder maintaining ecological function,

People are human resources costed per hour
not human beings growing up to empower,

Seen through the googles of economics
life is an algorithm not a rubrics cube,

The yoke of debt is not an Act of God but unaffordable rent,

As business as usual is endless chaos not order,

As we look for the quick buck not the long term fix,

Markets have short horizons not over the horizon radars advancing civilisation to higher expressions,

For to see beyond the space time continuum of self interest is to realise the uni-verse is the one song in tune with nature.

The wild fires have become a fire sale,

Destroying 8.4 million of hectares in the blaze will increase market prices,

A billion animals perished in the smoke haze,

Impacting the biomass as prayers were not answered,

Homeless people camping in the bush were razed
gained no relief or went missing without alarm,

Renters were given no grants or land,

As property owners are hard working and deserving,

Government, media and business jumped on the bandwagon not on the fire truck,

Circling the wagons is not containment of disruption,

Opportunities to strengthen brand images rather than imagine no brands to ask for change not coins,

Still seeking a bounty from the mutiny,

The mutiny on the bounty is to leave GDP,

As branded cattle are piled on burial mounds,

Agricultural crops and harvesters went up in smoke,

Timbers become cinders,

Run for your life abandon possessions, beloved memories and pets,

This is the test,

To save lives not things,

To remember each other and lend an equal hand,

For this is the meaning of the aussie battler,

Bush community know common unity,

As they battle fires with families and friends.

Giving is to be good as gold,

Yet what if the gold is in being truly good,

You would naturally give time and all you have,

For it is human nature to give not take away,

To pitch in or risk losing all,

As livelihood is to live your life to be really alive,

This is St Elmo’s fire testing your determination and stamina,

From smouldering embers spark new shoots to push up breaking new ground,

From hardship comes rebirth of a renewable life,

From pot ash comes the phoenix resurrecting renewal,

And all can rise when you can go down no further,

For the rural farmers have suffered for years,

They lost their voice,

Mortgages as debt was the tourniquet squeezing livelihoods year on year as hard work doesn’t yield.

Many have been weighed down…

By what is not important in fears,

By material things that no longer bring joy,

By worries about money that never end contracts,

By conflicts from stress and out of touch bureaucracy,

By family breakdown under pressure,

By rising costs and uncertain futures,

They have been the backbone of our country.

Yet what if you look up to the stars my friend?

Take your hands from your eyes to see beyond,

That a new day dawns every day,

The sun-rises from the east setting in the west,

To know that from bad seeds come good,

From disruption comes clarity of purpose,

For you can’t get back what is a final demand,

When one door closes another opens,

And the finale of life is to let go when it is done and dusted,

To face fires, flood, famine and drought fearlessly
as dawn, midday and dusk mark time,

For we must face the phases of the moon together,

We must give a hand up and a hand out
no matter who is in need,

As you are me,

And I am you,

Learn to let go of the seed of greed marketed as need,

It is the fast breeder of fear,

It is the terminator seed,

For what you give away returns the bounty,

What you earn you give away in trust,

As abundance is not in what you have but who you are when you dig deep,

And who you are is gratitude, service and love without end,

And these are the real seeds St Elmo’s fire is renewing,

For the old must die for the new to arise.

We are one country under the Southern Cross,

We are stewards not owners,

We are temporary not permanent,

When every ONE is deserving of charity,

We are a nation girt by sea,

From the coast, to the forest, to the deserts,

We are free,

We have boundless plains to share to care,

And air to breathe when we see the key,

That we can regenerate our country’s spirit,

We are dreaming in the land of Oz,

Starting again resets from zero point,

To nurture shattered lives by piecing together the puzzle as the final peace in the big picture,

The deck chairs are rearranging on the titanic seeking to keep the currency afloat,

The Big Issue is that Australians are sharing the bounty not holding cards to the chest,

As friends in-deed we are stepping up to lead,

For Mount Kosciusko can be climbed in a day,

The Murray can replenish a sunburnt country,

The Snowy Mountains can rekindle Clancy of the Overflow,

As he drove cattle down mountain views where all hesitated to step off the real cliff hanger,

He proved the impossible is possible,

Courage leads whilst fear weighs the risks,

In the high country the brumby’s sniff the wind adapting to climates of change as they know which way to run.

Australians know the struggle and the peaks,

As we are heading for a depression of great magnitude,

An economic earthquake shaking ‘em up,

The Great Barrier Reef sacrificed corals to pollution favouring a crown of thorns,

The Great Artesian basin is sinking the water table as hard water is diverted and dries up,

Salt lakes muddy clean waters,

Fertilising biosciences grow at ever diminishing returns akin anti-bio-tics,

Nature is not an electrical circuit board or linear cog in an industrial flywheel,

It is a tipping point of infinitesimal sensitivity,

Where the sum of the parts is the whole.

Descartes reduced life to boxes not cells,

Newton gravitated to apples not seeds,

Einstein’s relativity theory was not absolute,

Mythical dragons breathe fire yet oxygen is fuel,

Oxford became lost in space seeking the last frontier,

Dances with Wolves chose to go to the frontier country before it was lost,

Buffalos were killed for skins not hunger,

Science invented wars losing the peace prize,

For the real courage is to face what we have truly lost and not hesitate to act,

We are lost in space unable to make peace

A priority,

For until we do we hesitate on the mountain view unable to step off the cliff of uncertainty,

As life is not predictable nor mechanical,

It is a miracle,

And only when you lose everything do you realise the true value of life,

For this is the real gold,

Or indeed the Fool’s Gold of awakening from the dream,

Fires cleanse away debris to make way for renewable growth,

To see the forest instead of the wood,

To value nature as a flow not a production process,

For the real currency is love,

What you truly love becomes visible in crisis,

To breathe is nature’s rhythm,

To speak is nature’s sound scape,

To eat is nature’s bounty given for free,

For free dominion is nature’s possibility,

That self selects when the fruit is ripe,

To fall from the tree at the perfect moment,

As love withholds no wealth from life,

As life is the real wealth loving,

And until you taste the sweetness
greed will be the bad seed replanted,

Yielding endless wars fuelling climates of disruptive change,

For until the burning bush is seen as a message from the creator,

Heralding that all people are chosen,

And that all roads lead home,

For Rome will return to the Garden of Eden,

Adam & Eve will plant an apple tree together,

Receiving nature’s bounty at the perfect time in peace,

Loving what is was all ways the peace that passeth all understanding.

Australian Bushfire Donations

The surprise with the fires in Australia was how much money has been spent to assist those homeless. Yet the irony is that 116,000 homeless in Australia are not seen in the same light.

All people in crisis should be assisted 100%. The issue is when we decide who is deserving who is not.

On a positive note what was great to see was our country coming together to help each other, which is our true nature.

To change the climate we must learn our true nature which is to respond to the human crisis not the market as a first responder.

What were the costs involved?

Bushfire donations: where will the millions that have been given be spent?

NSW RFS chief Shane Fitzsimmons says members will be consulted about how to allocate between competing priorities, such as bushfire victims and conditions for volunteer firefighters

Ben Doherty @bendohertycorro

Tue 7 Jan 2020 11.22 AEDT First published on Tue 7 Jan 2020 04.00 AEDT

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Firefighters extinguish a blaze by the side of a road
Donations in the tens of millions of dollars have poured into Australian fire services, with NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons saying the ‘extraordinary generosity will make a massive difference’. Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP

The NSW Rural Fire Service says it will consult its members before deciding how to spend the extraordinary influx of bushfire donations, as it tries to weigh the intentions of those who have given money.

The head of the RFS, Shane Fitzsimmons, said allocating the “extraordinary” influx of donations from the public, now into the tens of millions of dollars, would be a challenge for the organisation, but that it was a “nice challenge to have”.

He pledged to spend the donations “where it was intended”, directing the money towards fire victims as well as the fire service itself.

The RFS, which has been the main focus of donations in the wake of the bushfires, is primarily funded by the state government, as Michael Eburn, an expert in emergency management at the Australian National University, has noted.

“People should understand, before they make their donation, that fundamentally they are making a donation to the NSW government,” Eburn wrote on Monday.

The online fundraising campaign run by comedian Celeste Barber has alone raised more than $33m, which will be distributed, not only to the NSW’s RFS, but its interstate equivalents, including Victoria’s Country Fire Authority and South Australia’s Country Fire Service.

Millions more have flowed to the RFS through private donations and other fundraising efforts.

Fitzsimmons said the depth and breadth of donations “reflects the best we’ve got in humanity”.

“I think it’s quite extraordinary and extremely generous,” he said.

Fitzsimmons said the organisation did not yet know how it would spend the donations, and that allocating the additional money would be a challenge, “but a nice challenge to have”.

“We will consult with members, we will make sure we understand firstly, what was the intention behind people contributing to that fund: was it to go to disaster victims, was it to go to make better arrangements and better conditions for volunteers? We will need to target the money to where people intended it to go.

“We need to make sure that we get something tangible, and we get some real benefit out of this, and we don’t want to lose sight of the fact that that extraordinary generosity will make a massive difference.”

The amount committed to the NSW RFS donations fund has dwarfed the donations raised in previous years.

The most recent donations fund annual report

from 2017-18 – showed gifts of $768,044 to the RFS, of which $546,000 was donated to individual brigades, and $222,000 to the central fund for distribution. The largest single donation was $25,000.

The central donations fund exists “solely for the purpose of supporting the volunteer-based fire and emergency service activities of the brigades”. It is unclear how the money will, or could, be divided with other fire services or with bushfire victims, if it has been donated to the Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service and Brigades Donations Fund. But the trust deed allows the trustees to disburse funds as recommended by the RFS executive committee.

The service is also running dedicated fundraising appeals for the families of volunteer firefighters Samuel McPaul, Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O’Dwyer, killed fighting fires this bushfire season.


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The NSW RFS budget for this financial year is $424m, funded by the NSW state government.

Writing in The Big Smoke Australia, Eburn said donating to the RFS was commendable given the vital work it performs, but stressed that the organisation was a government funded and run agency.

“The RFS is not an organisation run by volunteers and funded by community donations,” he wrote. “The RFS is not a volunteer organisation, it is a government organisation that relies on volunteers.

“No doubt the trustees, the RFS, and brigades that benefit … and the trustees of the fund, will do their best to ensure that it is well spent to advance the RFS abilities in coming years but people should understand, before they make their donation, that fundamentally they are making a donation to the NSW government.”

In the wake of devastating fires in that state, the Victorian government has established a new government agency – Bushfire Recovery Victoria – to coordinate the state’s fire recovery. The agency, headed by former police chief commissioner Ken Lay, has been given a budget of $50m.

Lay said the new agency would work with local communities to guide their own recoveries.

“When disasters happen in local communities, the answers are generally in their community, so I’ll be looking for local people to give local advice, local resources to address these issues.”

Premier Daniel Andrews asked those wanting to help not to donate clothing, goods, or food, but money to the state government-run bushfire appeal.

“I know it’s tough to watch this all unfold and feel helpless. I know a lot of people want to get stuck in and lend a hand. But it’s important to remember that the emergency relief effort is being run by experienced organisations, and they don’t have space to sort or store donations.

“If you want to help, please consider donating to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. Every dollar raised will go towards immediate support for those who have lost everything.

“Victorians have been incredibly generous already. After just a few days, the appeal is sitting at $2m, and our government will match the current amount raised.”