Here’s How You Can Help Support Those Affected By Australia’s Catastrophic Bushfires
This article was updated on Tuesday, Jan 6.
It’s the most extreme natural emergency we’ve faced in Australia, and the bushfires that rage across every state and territory in our country show no signs of letting up anytime soon, despite monumental, round-the-clock efforts made by firefighters across the country.
Fires have been raging since September last year – here’s where we stand right now: at least 23 people have been killed in the bushfires, with six more people declared missing in fire-affected areas; nearly half a billion animals have been estimated killed in the bushfires (and that’s just in the state of NSW); more than seven million hectares of land has burned, and 1700 homes have been lost, according to Mamamia. Fires have destroyed businesses, and farmers’ livestock have been decimated too. Smoke has covered towns and cities; Canberra residents are breathing in the worst air pollution in the world as we write this.
Read on to find out all the ways you can help support those affected by Australia’s bushfire emergency right now.
The images coming out of Australia are apocalyptic.
The scale of the fires are unprecedented. Troops and intl. aid have been mobilized.
12 million hectres of land have been burned. Half a billion flora and fauna incinerated. 24 people dead.
This dwarfs the Amazon blaze. pic.twitter.com/SGgfiNgN4d
— Rohan Javet Beg (@RohanBeg) January 4, 2020
Open your wallet
Donating to The Salvation Army Disaster Appeal not only helps those affected by the bushfires right now through supplying meals, water and clothing, but also in the months and years to come. The Salvos’ funds are dedicated to helping those affected communities get back on their feet, however long it takes – you can donate to the appeal here.
The Red Cross is currently helping displaced people find their loved ones, setting up recovery hubs for locals, and responding to emergencies. Donate to their Bushfire Relief fund to help the thousands of volunteers continue their vital work.
Donating to the NSW Rural Fire Service helps to sustain the efforts of the NSW firefighters, who rely on volunteers and contributions from the public. You can donate to the NSW Rural Fire Service here.
Imagine seeing your 6 year old son fly off in an Army chopper while you stay behind in a town engulfed in orange smoke.
That’s what happened to Cherrie Meloury in Omeo on Saturday.
“I was brave for my son.”
“Once he flew off, I lost it.”
Her son is safe with his grandma. pic.twitter.com/aQFYUFrzop
— Emilia Terzon (@EmiliaTerzon) January 5, 2020
Vinnies Bushfire Appeal (NSW) similarly helps those devastated by fires to receive the financial, physical and emotional support they’ll need to get back on their feet. They need money urgently – donate here.
The Fire Relief Fund for First Nations Communities supports those experiencing their sacred lands burning to ash, and helps displaced First Nations people find accommodation and fund their emergency relief costs. Donate to the appeal here and, while you’re at it, have a read of this insightful article by Lorena Allam.
Firefighter helping a thirsty koala during these tragic bushfires in Australia 🙏🏻pic.twitter.com/oMz7LXmtZ8
— 🐾 (@Justbestials) January 6, 2020
Australia’s wildlife is critically affected by the bushfires. The Koala Hospital Fundraiser helps to provide koalas and other wildlife with automatic water-drinking stations in affected areas, and cares for koalas that are suffering from burns and smoke inhalation – donate to the hospital here.
The RSPCA’s bushfire appeal (both in NSW and Victoria) helps to evacuate animals from fire-affected areas and care for them. WIRES, a NSW not-for-profit where trained volunteers rehabilitate injured wildlife, is accepting donations, which’ll pay for food, vet fees and medical supplies.
Mogo Wildlife Park, just south of Batemans Bay, was dangerously close to going up in flames last week. Thankfully, the blazes that threatened the grounds were kept at bay and all 221 of Mogo park’s animals – from rhinos to monkeys – remain safe. Donations to the wildlife park’s GoFundMe page will help Mogo Zoo take care of other injured wildlife in the area and get the zoo back on its feet.
If you’re overseas, your best bet is donating to the causes listed above – the Salvos has a section for international donations – and spreading the message about the catastrophic size and scale of these bushfires to those around you, encouraging them to donate too.
Go to a gig
Heaps of our favourite musicians and comedians are putting on fundraising shows where 100% of the proceeds will be donated to bushfire appeals. Lots of them sold out quickly, including the OG Wiggles over 18s gig at Castle Hill RSL (gutted we missed this!), but you can still nab tickets to Syd Fest’s Bushfire Appeal gig at the Metro with Dan Sultan and Art Vs. Science, or head to The Imperial Hotel’s fab Basement Party. Also keep an eye out for tickets to the Fire Fight Australia concert which promises a stellar line-up of global musos (finger’s crossed for Queen).
Short on cash?
Don’t worry, there are still plenty of ways you can help out. Here are a few options...
— I Am Cactus 🌵 (@IAmCactus2) November 12, 2019
Authorities across the board are asking people to consider cash donations, instead of donating items that emergency services just don’t have the manpower to sort through. High-quality items can be donated to GIVIT, however, who will gift the items where needed. You can also donate items to the Red Cross and Vinnies shops in your area. The funds that the shops make help these organisations continue their important work.
Got a spare room? Let someone without a place to stay sleep at yours. AirBnB’s Open Homes program has been set up across NSW and Victoria, allowing owners to share their spare room to those who need it most, for free.
If donating cash or items isn't possible for you, you can always donate blood. Lifeblood says they're going to need many more donations as the bushfire crisis worsens.
— Paganmike (@Paganmike2012) January 7, 2020
You probably won’t be able to nab a volunteer job off the bat – organisations like Red Cross, WIRES and Vinnies generally need time to train and vet candidates before sending them into emergency relief situations – but if you sign up now, you could be able to volunteer in the months to come. Also check out local community pages on Facebook to see if there’s any more ad hoc ways you could be lending a hand.
Take a road trip
From wineries to farms, so many businesses have been affected by Australia’s bushfires, and the devastating impact of these fires will be felt long after the blazes are finally put out. When it’s all over, we urge you to take a road trip and travel to bushfire-affected areas: purchase wine, stay in hotels, eat out and do all you can to pump some much-needed dollars back into the local economy. Communities will need all of our help to rebuild.
For up-to-date information on the bushfires and the affected areas, please head to each state and territory’s fire service website. you can also check The Guardian's live blog, which is updating coverage as it happens. Keep safe.
Main Image Credit: Photo by Peter Parks via Getty