Volunteering in an emergency

Victorian communities have been devastated by fires and floods in the last few years and our hearts go out to the people affected by these natural disasters.

Many people want to help out and lend a hand to these communities – and volunteering is often the first thing we think of.

This section looks at some of the important ways you can help during an emergency.

Southwest Fires March 2018 - how to help

Since the fires began on Saturday 17th March, emergency organisations have been flooded with offers to donate money and offers of help. As always, the generosity of the Victorian (and Australian) community shines through in tough times like these.


Please do not donate goods at this time. The best way to help the those that have been affected by these devastating fires is to donate needed much needed funds.

1. Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) has partnered with Community Bank® to establish a Community Relief Fund in support of community members affected by the Southwest Victoria fires. The Fund aims to support communities across Colay-Otway, Corangamite, Warrnambool, Moyne, and Southern Grampians areas where the fires have destroyed homes and impacted primary producers.

2. Victorian Farmers Disaster Relief Fund for the South West Fires is now open for donations. All donations are tax deductable. Donations to the Fund will be used to cover the cost of fodder transport to fire affected farmers and facilitate collection and distribution of feed. Donations may also assist apiarists and provide emergency stock water. More info available on the VFF website


If you'd like to volunteer to directly assist, HelpOut is working with the impacted communities to address their urgent needs. 

Volunteers are encouraged to register online at Volunteering Victoria’s HelpOUT portal - www.volunteeringvictoria.org.au/helpout

Get involved early

The best thing to do is get involved with a local volunteer-based organisation well before a disaster strikes. That way you will already have all the necessary background checks and a membership with the volunteering group.

Local councils often rely on established volunteer-based organisations that can support and coordinate their own volunteers for relief and recovery efforts.

Become an emergency services volunteer

In an emergency, only trained volunteers who are already members of an organisation are called to hand. Some services respond during an emergency to protect people and property, while others need trained volunteers to assist in relief centres.

Get involved with an Emergency Services organisation and gain the experience, training and essential skills required.

Other ways to help

  • Do not travel to affected areas - it may still be unsafe for you to do so.
  • Do not call the local council - they are busy coordinating immediate relief for their community.

Donations and fundraising

If you are not already involved in a local volunteer organisation, making a cash donation to an official appeal or to a registered charity is the best way to help out.

Register to HelpOUT

Through Volunteering Victoria’s HelpOUT, everyday Victorians can register their interest in helping communities impacted by an emergency. HelpOUT then matches people with rewarding opportunities that meet identified community needs by partnering with the organisations on the ground in affected communities.

People who want to volunteer can:

  • Easily register their interest and availability online or over the phone
  • Specify their preferred availability and the skills they can offer
  • Be contacted by Volunteering Victoria’s HelpOUT team and offered suitable volunteering opportunities as they become available