Issue 1
Monday, 02 March 2020
Charles Darwin University
Trades lecturer Arnie Kroezen
Trades lecturer Arnie Kroezen

Trades lecturer battles summer bushfires

By Patrick Nelson

A CDU VET lecturer has returned to work in Darwin after volunteering to help in the bushfire crisis in New South Wales over the summer.

Metal Fabrication and Engineering lecturer Arnie Kroezen said that while there was obvious merit in physically fighting the fires, perhaps the greater value was in being present and showing support to those most affected.

“Many of them had just experienced great heartbreak, with properties destroyed and lives turned upside down,” Mr Kroezen said.

“It was important to assure them that in the face of such devastation they would not have to face the future alone. Many just needed someone to talk to; someone to encourage them and lift their spirits.

“The thanks we received from the local community was truly heartfelt and humbling.” 

Mr Kroezen, who fought many bushfires while growing up in rural South Africa, was given “post-fire” responsibilities in a team of five volunteers working between Armidale (NSW) and Tenterfield near the Queensland border.

“At one stage we were within about 500m of the front; it was smoky and ash was raining down. 

“My tasks were mainly the removal of the remains of burned out buildings, removal of fallen and dangerous trees along tracks and fence lines and repairing broken fences,” he said.

“This enabled local communities to get back on their feet quickly and farmers to return to their livestock.”

Mr Kroezen, a former Australian Army engineer, said he became involved after contacting a veteran mate near Armidale who was putting together a team of volunteers.

“I could see what these people were going through and was keen to help, so I took two weeks’ leave from CDU. I am grateful to CDU for allowing me the time to assist our fellow Australians.”