A message for survivors

A message for survivors

A SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM JELENKO DRAGISIC, RETIRED CEO VOLUNTEERING QLD

There's no denying that the last few years have been a difficult time for so many Queenslanders. We have endured floods and cyclones, droughts and bushfires, many of which have devastated communities with tragic loss of life and destruction of property. It was an exceptionally challenging time for too many of us. Recovery continues today, there's no doubt about that.

To anyone who has been dealt a tough blow thanks to Mother Nature I acknowledge that a website known as 'Hardenup.org' could be misinterpreted. I believe what victims of the events of extreme weather need to know is that Green Cross understands you didn't suffer because you were weak. To the people of Grantham, the freak event which devastated your town makes it hard to imagine that any preparation would suffice. And to anyone who lost a family member or friend, there's no intention to tell you to get over it, forget about it, harden up.

Hardenup.org is a long term project which I support because it is trying to communicate to people who, even today, choose to believe they are immune to natural disasters. Many people think they can leave it up to insurance and government bodies and emergency organisations to come to their rescue, both literally and financially. Or they believe there's nothing individuals can do when faced with a natural disaster. But those people are wrong because as I'm sure any victim of disaster would tell you, being prepared can make a hell of a difference. Knowing how to get out, having emergency supplies, being informed, really can be the difference between life and death, between keeping precious valuables or losing it all. As people who have direct experience of this, I invite you to share your stories with other Queenslanders. Harden Up has a section where you can share your tips to prepare for severe weather. They have also teamed up with the ABC and encourage you to tell your story. Through stories we can connect with where we live, intimately know what has happened in the past and realise it could happen again or get worse. We need to know that we have the power to influence what happens to us, to some extent. Being prepared is key.

To those who have lost what is most precious to them, Green Cross isn't asking you to harden up. Please, I ask you to reach out if you need help. Seek the support of others and take the time you need to heal. The message to be more prepared goes to those who are blinkered to the likelihood of savage events. As someone who has suffered at the hand of Mother Nature, you know better than most what can happen.

Yours sincerely
Jelenko Dragisic

Jelenko is the retired CEO of Volunteering Qld and has been involved in emergency management and resilience building work for many years.

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