Air raid sirens are a familiar sound when Victorian midwife Helena Anolak speaks with her family in the Ukraine.
Some of her extended family have fled to the UK to avoid the war, and a cousin and her daughter are awaiting a visa to come to Australia and live with Ms Anolak in Ballarat, in the state's central highlands.
Most of her family live in Lviv, or in villages on the city's outskirts, where the threat of war is real and bombs have fallen, though so far casualties have been few and there has been little fighting - but they anticipate it's only a matter of time before fighting erupts.
"They feel a bit immune and when they call, life is like normal but all the supplies are cut off. There's no money, they can't use banks, they are living off the land and it's lucky they are coming out of winter in to warmer weather so they can start to grow things," she said.
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Watching footage of conflict in the country she loves and the cities she knows has left Ms Anolak feeling powerless to help.
"My grandparents left the Ukraine because of this after World War II and now, in my lifetime, I'm seeing it again... how can this happen again?" she said.
To mark International Day of Midwives on Thursday, Ms Anolak and colleague Rhian Cramer have organised the screening of a documentary Birth Time across Federation University's three campuses, as well as a raffle and other activities to raise funds to support the Women's and Children's Hospital in Zaporizhia, Ukraine, treating women and children caught up in the war.
Through her ties with the Ukrainian Women's Association in Australia, which is linked to Ukrainian Women's Associations around the world and in Ukraine itself, members who are also medical staff have reached out asking for donations so they can buy medical equipment and supplies.
"The maternity hospitals, they are going underground and taking babies in humidicribs down in to bunkers," she said.
Millions of people around the world were shocked at footage of a women's and children's hospital in Mariupol that had been bombed by Russian forces in March, killing at least three people and injuring 17 and forcing rescuers to rush patients out of the hospital for treatment.
"In Mariupol they are treating women and children with shrapnel wounds, innocent civilians wounded in the fighting going on there.
"They are finding the NGOs are not sending the medical equipment they need. What they need can be purchased on the ground in Ukraine. They want money to buy the things they need there - they are medical staff, hospital staff who can source it."
For Ms Anolak, organising the fundraiser is one of the few ways she feels she can help.
"I feel I can't do much. I'm one of the lucky ones... but my family that stayed in the Ukraine are not as fortunate as me and I don't know what else to do than raise money and awareness."
She has spoken to some Ukrainian families who have already made their way to Australia and believes it's only a matter of time before more people arrive.
"There's not a huge influx yet like they are seeing in Europe, but we are getting prepared," she said.
"I drive my dad to the Ukrainian Church in Essendon every Sunday and the refugee families I talk to, they talk of seeing children and women not able to see their partners again, and losing lives we all take for granted.
"I used to live in the UK, and used to go to Ukraine regularly to visit family and I know Lviv, and Kyiv well... Kyiv was like the centre of Melbourne where you are walking around with all the shopping, McDonalds.
"It blows your mind that this could happen in this day and age. It's surreal that people could treat each other this way."
Working in midwifery and in the medical field, she has offered, through the Association of Ukrainians in Victoria who are supporting many of the arriving families, to help any pregnant women or women with medical issues to navigate the Australian medical system.
"There may be rape victims from war, women who are pregnant and traumatised, we don't even know what these women and children have experienced."
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