14 Jan Australian Bushfires: How You Can Help
This was not the summer we imagined. In this country, we love when the warmer weather rolls in. However, this year the warmer weather has brought terrifying Australian bushfires that have left behind a trail of devastation.
Across the country, many of us have watched in horror as photos and video footage of the bushfires saturated our screens. It’s hard to fathom how ferocious these blazes have been and how quickly they move. The beautiful NSW south coast, Victoria’s East Gippsland region and South Australia’s Kangaroo Island have been the worst hit. However, fires continue to burn all over the country. Firefighters and volunteers are working tirelessly to contain the Australian bushfires and protect communities, often fighting against catastrophic weather conditions.
The impact of the Australian Bushfires so far
Image: Lauren Dubois
Photos and videos of the bushfires look like something out of a movie about the apocalypse. And the statistics are just as frightening.
- More than 10 million hectares are thought to have been burned across the country so far – for reference, the 2019 Amazon fires burnt out over 906,000 hectares
- 27 lives have been lost
- 2131 homes have been destroyed
- Wildlife experts estimate 1 billion animals have died – and this excludes fish, frogs, bats and insects.
And the Australian fire season is far from over.
Rebuilding after the bushfire crisis
The impact of the fire season is estimated to be felt for years to come. Communities will need to rebuild. Furthermore, the emotional impact on individuals and families will be significant. Animal habitats and food sources have been decimated. Consequently, ecosystems may take a few years to an entire century to recover.
But one thing that Australians are great at is rallying together in the face of disaster. And so, though you may be feeling helpless, there are things we can all do to make a difference. Individually, we may feel small and powerless, but together, we are a powerful force for good!
Make a monetary donation
Donations of clothing and other essential items have been flooding in since the bushfire crisis began. As a result, most charities are at capacity for accepting these kinds of donations – at least for now. Storage space, and the time and resources it takes to sort and distribute the donated goods are currently exhausted. This may change in the future, but for now, what’s needed most and provides the most effective support at this time, according to the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and the CFA, is monetary donations.
Of course, not everyone is in a position to help in a financial way. But if you’re concerned that you can’t afford to donate a significant amount, don’t let that stop you. Even a donation of 5 or 10 dollars makes a difference. As comedian and author Celeste Barber has shown, lots of small donations very quickly add up to millions and millions of dollars. Every contribution is worthy.
Where to donate
- Australian Red Cross – donate here to assist with relief and recovery efforts. The Red Cross will be offering emergency assistance, recovery programs and ongoing local support where it’s needed most.
- The Salvation Army – your donation to the Disaster Appeal allows the Salvos to provide immediate relief and support to firefighters, emergency workers, evacuees and communities by providing meals, bedding, care packs and cash grants.
- WIRES – Australia’s largest wildlife rescue and rehabilitation charity. Donate to this non-profit to assist their important work in rescuing and rehabilitating animals affected by the bushfires.
- Foodbank – this incredible charity is able to turn your $1 donation into $6 worth of supplies for communities affected by the bushfire emergency. However, there are specific item requests and drop-off points if you would prefer.
- State Fire Services – make your donation to the fire service in your state, or even to your local brigade, to support the incredible work of our firefighters and volunteers.
RFS – Support the NSW Rural Fire Service to continue protecting our communities. You can direct funds to the brigade of your choice. Or make a donation to the RFS via Celeste Barber’s Facebook Fundraiser.
RFBAQ – you can make a tax-deductible donation to support the hard-working Queensland’s fire services.
CFS Foundation – help support the incredible work of South Australia’s volunteer firefighters.
Other ways to help
Although clothing and food donations are typically at capacity for now, keep an eye out for callouts for specific donations in your local area.
A great way to find out what is needed and where is with Givit – you can search by postcode or keyword.
If you have a spare bed or accommodation to offer someone displaced by bushfire, go to Find A Bed to register.
Are you handy with knitting needles and a sewing machine? You can help to make wool and cotton pouches which WIRES use to care for orphaned animals like joeys, baby wombats and possums. Find out more here.
BK 2 Basics in Melbourne have been busy making snack packs for exhausted volunteers. The most urgent need is bottled water, but we encourage you to contact this wonderful organisation to find out what else might be needed.
Image: Murray Lowe
Volunteering your time to a relief organisation near you can make a huge difference. There are many helping hands right now, in the thick of the crisis. However, as time goes on, people return to work and the news coverage lessens, but the struggle for people and animals affected by the Australian bushfires will go on. If you can’t help out this month, consider checking back in one month, six months, even a year from now. The road to recovery could be long and painful. But thankfully, we can continue to help make this road a little easier.