Wesley Volunteer Barbara honoured for service during natural disasters

19 December 2022
The Wesley Hospital volunteer End of Life Compassionate Companions standing in the chapel, wearing masks looking at camera

Wesley Hospital Volunteer Barbara Dare has devoted many years of her life to helping other people in times of crisis.

This week she will receive the National Emergency Services Medal recognising the extraordinary work she has done across Queensland during natural disasters. Barbara has spent the past 14 years volunteering with the Red Cross playing a vital role in natural disaster relief during the Brisbane Floods 2011, Cyclone Debbie 2017 and Townsville Floods 2019.

“I needed something to keep me busy in my retirement so I decided to join with the Red Cross, I did extensive training and went on deployments to areas impacted by natural disasters,” Barbara said.

“I worked as a first wave responder door knocking on people’s homes to make sure everyone inside was safe, setting up evacuating centres providing people with food and shelter and connecting people with other emergency services they needed.”

Barbara explains little notice was given and there were mere hours between receiving a phone call and being on the ground in a disaster zone.

“I helped to open an evacuation centre in Townsville and shortly after was asked to open a second, working with a team of 50 people we took 24 hours to get the centre up and running housing 450 flood victims,” Barbara said.

“The situation was very challenging as most of the people had not experienced floods before and many were in a state of shock, we had a family with a three-week-old baby, people in their nineties and three in wheelchairs.

“We are trained to provide humanitarian support and have basic training in psychological first aid. Our aim is to ensure everyone is safe and can access the basic necessities.”

Barbara has decided that it is now time to step down from disaster relief and is on to her latest volunteering venture, at The Wesley Hospital.

“I love working with people and I am looking forward to being in the hospital and putting my skills and training to use in a new environment,” Barbara said.

“Coming into hospital can be a daunting experience and I am hopeful I can play a role in helping to make people feel more at ease while they are here.”

In her spare time Barbara loves embroidery and has trained at the Royal School of Needlework in London, she also has two beautiful dogs.

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