From the ashes, student will rebuild bushfire-ravaged communities

By Juliano Oliveira

A quick search on Google is sufficient to understand the meaning of the word Phoenix.

“…is a long-lived bird that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again. Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor…”

Ellie Tree, a 26-year-old Psychological Science student of Southern Cross University, has found on the mythical figure the inspiration to help bushfire-ravaged communities of Australia.

From the ashes, Phoenix Foundations Housing Relief Limited will arise as a charity platform leading the rebuild planning process of houses and, most importantly, lives.

“The greater majority of those who lost their homes won’t be able to rebuild what they once had. Not only due to financial strain, but changes in legislation,” said Ms Tree.

“For some people their land will now be considered uninhabitable, and rebuilding won’t be an option at all. So, a lot of the work we are doing in the community is education-focused, discussing the process of rebuilding, which is dependent on each individual circumstance.”

The Phoenix team is working in parallel on a website responsible for assisting people willing to help fundraise; and emotional support, possibly in the form of a buddy system.

“The buddy system will be a database of volunteers who will advocate on behalf of each individual who needs help. This means those requiring assistance do not need to repeatedly tell their stories to service providers, ultimately causing them to revisit the trauma on a daily basis. Their buddy can instead take on this task and advocate on their behalf.”

The financial sustainability of the project comes from a volunteer database of tradies, registered with Tradies for Fire Affected Communities. The system is needed to Ms Tree and her team to keep costs low and turnover high in terms of the support they are able to provide.

The Phoenix, as Ms Tree likes to say, is now in an active listening mode and setting up an operation to be responsive to local volunteer leader’s needs as they help their communities recover. Rising from the ashes is just the beginning.