Bushfire Crisis in Australia – update 4 January 2020

The Blue Shield Australia Committee and all involved in our member organisations join in the national concern for everyone impacted over the past few months from the many extreme bushfire disasters.  We are also grieving the loss of life, and of animals, heritage sites and landscapes.  

Our Members’ first priority must be the safety of families and the community.  There are currently many dangerous fire zones that pose a serious threat to life. We remind everyone to follow alerts, messages and warnings as the catastrophic conditions continue.

Blue Shield Australia member organisations have not received many notifications of damage to Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums, Historical Societies and Sites at this stage.   We note that the Bundanon Trust has been evacuated, including artworks. More news on Bundanon from The South Coast Register and the Sydney Morning Herald. We also note concerns for UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In December the Clifton Creek Primary School Library was lost, new book donations are now being requested. The Wytaliba Public School Library was also destroyed in November and local donations are still requested. We know that a number of Indigenous Sites are in the path of fires, but at this stage, we are unsure of damage. There has been a report about the Bunj Bim National Park.

We acknowledge and sincerely thank the brave firefighters, emergency and defence force personnel, volunteers and co-ordinators who have enacted plans to save many community buildings, sites and collections.

Colleagues in our Member organisations are encouraged to advise their own Association about any collections, buildings and sites that have been affected, damaged or impacted. 

The loss of personal property has been great, and the immediate threat to life is still at its height in many regions.   Personal safety and following all Emergency Services directives is imperative at this time. 

There will be a long recovery ahead for many Australian communities in the coming months and our member organisations look forward to assisting our cultural heritage colleagues when the time is right.   We hope that these BSA Resources and links to information will be helpful in a range of recovery activities. 

We remind our colleagues and members to donate funds to authorised organisations such as the Australian Red Cross and all Rural Fire Services (rather than goods at this time) and please continue to book-in to donate blood and plasma to the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.  

Members who are not currently affected – now is a good time to review your own personal and cultural heritage organisation’s disaster preparedness plans and contact lists and to support those colleagues directly and personally impacted. 

Responses to the ongoing National Bushfire Crisis :

Australian Museums and Galleries Association (AMaGA)

Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA)

Australian Society of Archivists (ASA)

Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material (AICCM) Fire Recovery Resources – If you need the immediate help of a professional conservator in your bushfire recovery, you can use the Need a Conservator search.

International Council of Museums Australia (ICOM Australia) – updated 15/1/20

Australia International Council on Monuments and Sites (AICOMOS) – updated 20/1/20

Sue Hutley

Chair, Blue Shield Australia