AOC and Olympians focused on ... | Australian Olympic Committee

AOC and Olympians focused on helping communities recover from bushfires

Author imageAOC09 Jan 2020
David Gray / Getty Images

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has committed to supporting communities devastated by this summer’s severe bushfires with immediate direct support and a program to help communities recover.

The AOC’s support will be delivered in two phases, an immediate $100,000 contribution to the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal and a longer, ongoing commitment to support the rebuilding of communities as the impact of the bushfires becomes better known.


It is so hard to truly understand the level of devastation and suffering happening right now across the country from these fires. I am so grateful to the relentless work and sacrifice from the firies, most of who are volunteers, saving thousands of people’s homes and lives, and still continuing. From being down at Lake Conjola over the last week, you can feel the way the community has come together to support eachother. Everyone across Australia can come together as a country and support from afar aswell by donating to those who have sadly lost their homes and everything in them, and to the fire fighters and volunteers who are risking their lives daily. We can often feel helpless from far away but we can do the best we can by donating to those who have lost so much. Sadly our home town in Lake Conjola was hit very badly, and we were extremely lucky to be safe where we were. But our heart goes to the victims who lost so much, and to the place many call home. To help the victims from Lake Conjola’s recent bush fires of New Years follow the link in my bio 🔗 Some other suggestions are: *Australian Red Cross Disaster Recovery and Relief (just google it) You can also support our brave volunteer fire fighters: *NSW RFS Donations Page Those still in the areas, please be safe, we are thinking of you, and to those fighting these devastating fires, THANKYOU, SO SO MUCH🙏🏽

A post shared by Emma McKeon (@emmamckeon) on

In making this announcement, AOC President John Coates AC said the Olympic Movement in Australia is well placed to make a substantial contribution in the recovery phase, as devastated communities re-build their lives in the many months ahead.

“Australians have rallied to help the immediate needs of the volunteer fire brigade and communities. Individuals, including many Olympians, as well as organisations have contributed generously to assist families, communities and the many agencies that support them.

“The Olympic Movement places sport at the service of the community, so we believe we can make a valuable contribution as people in our towns and smaller centres look to rebuild community spirit and purpose, as well as the physical necessities.

“The power of sport to bring hope and inspiration is something every Olympian holds dear and the overwhelming message that we have from Olympians is that they want to help with recovery in any way they can.”

Mr Coates says the AOC has consciously focussed on an action plan that will help communities during the long-term recovery.

Essential elements of the plan include: 

  • Community outreach through “Olympics Unleashed” and other community programs with Olympians visiting affected schools and communities devastated by fire;
  • Coordinating and galvanising efforts of the Australian Olympic family of 44 sports in supporting local clubs and schools for their long-term recovery;
  • Establishing a sports equipment fund to assist sports and communities re-build in fire-affected areas;
  • During the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, taking live celebrations and Olympians directly to fire-affected areas to lift community spirits during the recovery process.

AOC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Matt Carroll says the Olympic Movement is keen to work hand in glove with State, Territory and Federal Governments in assisting the broader recovery efforts. 

“The establishment of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency is a welcome initiative and the Olympic Movement is saying we are here to help.

The Olympic spirit is all about resilience, giving back and creating a positive legacy, so we will feel we can contribute, along with our member sports and generous partners. 


Batlow. It’s where I was born, in the hospital that burned down on Saturday. It’s where I grew up, a small country town, where everyone knows everyone. This community is one of a kind, and I am so proud to call this my home. I am devastated by the damage the fires that ripped through on Saturday caused; to homes, businesses, forestry, farms, orchards, livestock and people’s livelihoods. At least 20 homes have been lost, our local petrol station also and the damage to orchards and farms and livestock is still to be assessed. The recovery for these will be long and for some it may be impossible, so I feel compelled to help where I can. I have a goal of $20,000 which is a conservative amount given the damage caused, (eg: only $1000 per house) and I hope we can reach this and go beyond and help others affected in the Snowy Mountains; Tumbarumba, Talbingo and Adelong and surrounding areas, with immediate assistance and for rebuilding in the future. Help us continue to keep Batlow famous for apples. This town built me and I owe to the community to have a town for the next generation to grow and dream like I was able to do. These donations will go directly to the community.

A post shared by Sharni Williams (@sharni_will) on

“For more than a year now, Olympians have been travelling to schools around Australia with positive messages of self-belief, goal setting and resilience. These will be important messages in the time ahead for those hard-hit areas.

With the support of our partner, Optus, we will use Olympics Unleashed to help kids and their families rebuild their lives.

“Sport is at the heart of our communities and many sports clubs themselves in our towns will need assistance to recover. The Olympic sports will be working to support clubs, schools and families.

This will include replacement of lost equipment necessary to play their different sports. So, the Olympic Movement will be establishing a fund to ensure participation in sport will play a part in helping communities recover.”

Mr Carroll said the AOC was also working on opportunities for affected communities to be able to come together as one during the Tokyo Olympic Games to celebrate the inspiration of our Australian athletes.

“So many of our Olympians come from areas that have been affected or are still under threat. These are the communities where they grew up, went to school and where many of them still live and have family and friends. 

“In the same way that every Olympian has tremendous pride in representing Australia in their chosen sport, they also remember the communities who nurtured them to become the champions they are today.

“The simple fact is we are all connected. As Australians, we are all in this together, which is why the AOC is also looking to ensure those areas can really enjoy the Games and the great community lift Olympics can produce,” Mr Carroll concluded.