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'We’re Just Waiting To See If We Got A Home To Go Back To': The Reality of The Bushfire Crisis


What would you do if you were told you had to evacuate your home?

What would you grab?

Would you remember everything?

Would you know what to even get if you didn't know how long you would be gone?

And how would you feel not knowing whether you would have a home to go back to?

Ems Trueman had to make those tough decisions this week when the RFS told her and her family to leave their property.

Ems and her partner and her three kids live in Batlow - the historic NSW town known as Australia's apple capital.

The town is expected to be hit by catastrophic fires this Saturday and all 1,300 Batlow residents have been told to evacuate.

Ems and her family escaped to Wagga Wagga, over 110km north-west from her town, and managed to find an Airbnb.

"When we first left it was a precaution," Ems said, "We fully expected to go back the next day. We grabbed a little bag each and grabbed the animals. We got them boarded at a cattery. I had to place my mum into care. She is living with dementia. She did not understand the gravity of the situation. She still keeps asking when can we go home?"

Ems was devastated she couldn't bring all her animals and had to leave some behind as she had no where she could take them.

"I’ve got two goats that I hope are going to survive. And an aviary full of budgies. These animals they’re our pets. But we had no where to take them. So we just hope the goats will stay down near the dam and survive."

However, Ems said there are moments she does feel lucky because she's been able to get financial help from her family in Victoria and she has been able to use her annual leave to buy food and pay bills.

"Not everyone's families can help. And anyone who is casual I don’t know how they’re coping, how they’re paying their bills and how they’re feeding their kids. From what I can tell there seems to be no government assistance in any format to pay for accomodation except for the relief centres. Your emergency payments only apply once your house is burnt down."

Fires are seen in the distance in NSW town Batlow. Image Source: Facebook/ @Mythica
As the fires get closer to homes in Batlow, residents are forced to evacuate. Image Source: Facebook/ @Mythica

Like many people across Australia, Ems is angry at Scott Morrison's lack of leadership during the bushfire crisis.

People Australia and around the world have expressed their frustrations towards the Prime Minister with #SmoKo and #ScottyfromMarketing continually trending on Twitter.

Ems said the Prime Minister's behaviour is "like a slap in the face" for those affected by the bushfires.

"He's meant to be leading our country. He should not be going on a holidays to Hawaii. He is the countries’ figurehead. And it's not good enough. And to add insult to injury he’s come back and acted like he does care. It’s too little too late. It seems like these ‘thoughts and prayers’ just seem like token bulls***. He’s the leader of our country, if the premiers aren’t doing what is best for the country at large then he should be overriding that."

But Ems said there are many ways people in nearby communities can help those displaced during the bushfire crisis, including providing a place to sleep if they have a spare room or even letting people use their washing machine to clean their clothes.

There are evacuation centres but they don’t have resources or the space. When this is all over we don’t know what we’ll need… because we don’t know what we’ll have left. Right now we’re just waiting… waiting to see if we got a home to go back to."

The RFS has reported it's now too late now for residents to leave Batlow and for people that chose to stay they must now seek shelter as the fire approaches.

For RFS updates in NSW head to https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/fire-information/fires-near-me

Demi Lynch,

Announcer & Producer of 'The Nasty Woman Club Podcast'

Co-Producer & Co-Announcer of Radio 4EB program 'Fair Comment'

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