We first published this article at the beginning of November 2019. We never imagined two months later just how terrifying the situation would get.
We know many who have not been directly effected by the bushfires themselves, just want to do anything they can to help those who have. So, we’re doing our best to keep this article updated with new ways to help, as more organisations, charities, businesses and individuals join the voluntary public response to assist rural communities.
Thank you to everyone who purchased from us during our Green Friday Festival – we donated 10% of all sales to Red Cross Disaster Relief & Recovery. As a small business, we are continually looking into other ways we can support the relief effort.
Updated 08.01.20 | The statistics are devastating:
- More than 8.4m hectares (20.8m acres) had been burned across the whole country – an area bigger than the size of Scotland.
- A billion animals dead.
- At least 24 human deaths.
- Tens of thousands of people evacuated from their homes in NSW and VIC, in some cases only with help from the Australian navy.
- “Very unhealthy” and “hazardous” air quality levels in parts of New South Wales, Victoria and Australia Capital Territory.
- A monitoring site in the Monash suburb of Canberra measured an air quality index of 5,185 on Friday, more than 20 times the level that is considered hazardous.
- Haze from the fires has impacted places as far away as New Zealand.
- Thousands displaced, climate refugees, having had to evacuate their homes. Many have stayed as they have no other option.
- 2,000 homes destroyed.
This is not normal.
Our home is, literally, burning. It’s upsetting, shocking, confronting and so, so sad.
When I think about all the families who have lost their homes, their memories, the one place they are meant to feel safe and secure, my heart breaks. I cannot even begin to imagine how they themselves are feeling.
To all of you, I am so, so sorry that this is your reality.
I am only one person. I do not have power or money. I am currently too far away to offer physical help. But, like so many others, I just want to do something.
So, I have researched, read, asked and curated (and updated) a list of suggestions: actions we can take, places we can donate, and small things we can all do to support the bushfire relief effort.
If you think something is missing from this list, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add it in.
1. Donate money
To any of these charities and organisations:
- The Rural Fire Service – support your local brigade, on the frontline frontline of efforts to contain flames that are burning across the state. Find out how you can donate by credit card, bank deposit or cheque here.
- Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief & Recovery – supporting communities affected by multiple bushfires in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia with specialist emergency volunteers providing psychological first aid, working at evacuation centres and helping people to get in touch with their loved ones.
- WIRES Emergency Fund – WIRES needs urgent assistance to help with this unprecedented emergency. Even before the current fire disasters, large areas of Northern NSW and South East Queensland appeared to be experiencing a severe flying-fox starvation and dehydration event. With species such as Koalas and Grey-Headed Flying-foxes already listed as vulnerable to extinction, the additional loss of life through emergencies like this is even more devastating. You can donate here by credit/debit card or PayPal.
- The Rescue Collective – a call out for much needed supplies for animal drop-off locations was met by an amazing response, meaning most locations are now almost full! The Rescue Collection is now accepting donations via the TRC ARF”s partner fund program. This is a registered Charity, all donations are tax deductible. You can donate here.
- Port Macquarie Koala Hospital – an animal welfare, scientific research and education facility that will send out and conduct search and rescue exercises in the hope of finding surviving koalas. Any surviving koalas will be brought into the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital for assessment and treatment. The hospital’s own website (https://www.koalahospital.org.au/) was down at the time of writing this (hopefully because of an influx of donations!), but you can still donate via this Go Fund Me page.
- Givit is coordinating donations and goods for Queenslanders affected by the fires.
- Salvation Army Emergency Services teams have been deployed to bushfire regions in New South Wales and Queensland. Crews will be working to provide ongoing care, offer immediate assistance like food and shelter, help reach isolated families and provide essential items. You can donate to the Salvos’ Emergency and Disaster Appeal here.
- St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland has a number of volunteers on the ground in Noosa and Yeppoon now providing support in evacuation centres, primarily in the recovery phase once the initial emergency is over, helping communities to rebuild. You can donate a vinnies.org.au or by phoning 13 18 12.
- Other organisations rescuing and rehabilitating injured wildlife include:
- Currumbin Wildlife Hospital has a hospital wish list. Items donated from this list make an immediate difference to the 11 500 animals that are admitted to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital each year. You can find the wish list here.
- WILVOS (Wildlife Volunteers Association Inc.)
- Granite Belt Wildlife Carers Inc
- Wildcare Australia (asking for donations for nest boxes to help house wildlife affected by the fires)
- Koala Rescue QLD
- RSPCA QLD
- Friends of the Koala – fighting for Northern Rivers Koalas
- Sugarshine Farm Sanctuary – needs help to buy food for all of its residents, PLUS all of the animals they are housing during the fires.
2. Donate time or resources
Not everyone is in a position to be able to donate cash, so if you’re located close to an effected area and want to help, why not donate some of your time instead?
- If you are in QLD and can donate time and support to wildlife rescue efforts, head to https://www.facebook.com/groups/arftrcvols.
- If you are in VIC or are a corporate business, Paul West is coordinating a public response to impacted rural communities of East Gipplsand, the Snowy Mountains and the NSW South Coast. If you can help with convoys of food, drinking water, medical help pr psychological help, if you have any military or emergency services experience, if you are a doctor or psychologist, if you have a MR/HR or SEMI license, or you have any experience in disaster relief coordination, please email Paul directly at email@example.com.
- Thread Together is a charitable group that sources new and excess clothing from fashion retailers before making them available to communities in need.The organisation is looking for distribution partners on the ground in fire zones to help receive clothing and distribute it to residents. If your company can assist with handing out items please contact the Thread Together office on 1300 003 789 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also make a donation to Thread Together via the organisation’s website.
- Volunteer for BlazeAid, a volunteer-based organisation that works with families and individuals in rural Australia after natural disasters such as fires and floods. Working alongside the rural families, volunteers help to rebuild fences and other structures that have been damaged or destroyed and help to lift the spirits of people who are often facing their second or third flood event after years of drought, or devastating losses through bushfires. BlazeAid volunteers work in a disaster-affected area for many months, not only helping individuals and families, but also helping rebuild the local communities.
- Read this Bushfire Factsheet for Wildlife from WIRES for general advice for helping wildlife during bushfires.
- The Return and Earn Recycling Scheme in NSW and QLD allows you to donate to ‘bottles for the bush’ instead of banking your cash into your PayPal account.
- buyfromthebush and ‘Go Country for Christmas‘ allows you to purchase items online from retailers based in the country impacted by drought.
- Got a spare bed? Willing to offer it to someone who has to evacuate their home? Register at Findabed.info. Bed icon and fire icon are displayed.
- Bondi Nippers has organised an Emergency Bushfire donations collection point at Bondi surf club. 8am-6pm all weekend (4/5 January). 9am-3pm Monday to Friday next week. “If you have empty boxes and shopping bags we need those also. Packing tape and assistance with packing next week would be really helpful. Please make sure items are in good condition, clean with clothing sorted into sizes and ages for kids. Food should be non perishable and in date.”
- The Foodbank Bushfire Emergency Relief Appeal is currently accepting donations of non-perishable food and other essential grocery items at its warehouses around Australia.
- Items in high demand:
- Bottled water
- UHT Milk
- Breakfast cereal
- Good quality tinned foods and meals (with ring pulls)
- Pasta, rice and noodles
- Grab-and-go foods like muesli bars
- Pet food
- Items in high demand:
- Please do not donate:
- Fresh fruit and vegetables
- Bedding or clothing (new or used)
- For more information on how and where to donate, click here.
- Please do not donate:
3. Get clued up
“I’ll put my 20-year Rural Fire Service medal up against your free advice any day of the week. The anger is real. The anger is justified. Because this disaster was all foreseen and predicted. For decades the link between a hotter, drier climate, land-clearing, excessive irrigation and increased fire risk have all been attested in scientific papers.” – Glen Innes Severn Council Mayor, Carol Sparks.
Don’t listen to ‘free advice’. Do the research for yourself. Understand what is happening, why it is happening and the devastating effect it’s having on our planet, people and animals. To get you started, I’ve listed some useful links below:
- “On Fire” – The Burning Case for a Green New Deal by Naomi Klein
- True or False? Facts and myths about bushfires and climate change (2016) by The Climate Institute
- The truth about Australia’s fires — arsonists aren’t responsible for many this season
4. Use your voice and your vote
“If anyone tells you, “This is part of a normal cycle” or “We’ve had fires like this before”, smile politely and walk away, because they don’t know what they’re talking about.” – Greg Mullins, former Fire & Rescue NSW commissioner.
- Write to your local MP and ask for urgent action on climate change, bring to their attention the fact that bushfire seasons are lengthening and predicted to increase in frequency and intensity. You can cite former Fire and Rescue NSW commissioner Greg Mullins’ editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald, where he outlines the “established long-term trend driven by a warming, drying climate” which is creating longer, more intense, more dangerous bushfire seasons.
- Anna Richards has done the hard work for you head to the link in her Instagram Bio, download the already written letter, edit the highlighted sections and send to your local MP.
- Sign petitions like this one, to call on the Prime Minister to meet immediately with emergency leaders, including Greg Mullins.
- Exercise your democratic right and VOTE – make sure the person running your country is someone you believe in to put the planet and the people in it, first.
- Get social with the tag #AttnScottMorrison – as Sarah Wilson said, “Be angry. We are allowed to be. Our government categorically should have done more to prevent what we’re seeing… The time is now. While our hearts are aching, let’s unite and fight for each other’s lives.”
- Be careful that you’re sharing facts, not #fakenews.
- Talk to friends and family. School Strike 4 Climate has put together some useful informaiton on how to talk wiht people abotu climate change, in its Bushfire Crisis Conversation & Action Guide.
- March. Use your voice and your power to protest our government’s inaction on climate change.
- Friday, 10 January, 5.30pm, Sydney Town Hall
- Tuesday, 4 Feb, 8am, on the steps of Parliament House, Canberra.
- More info can be found HERE.
Some good news!
- Celeste Barber’s fundraiser on Facebook has officially become the largest in the platform’s history, raising over $45million!
- Aussies are sharing heartening photos on social media, showing burned bushland coming back to life after the fires.
- More than 9000 chippies, sparkies and tradies of all types have joined a Facebook group helping fire-affected communities. Help given by group members has so far ranged from delivering pallets of feed for fire-affected animals to convincing a company to donate sprinkler systems they helped install.
- The Government of Vanuatu has pledged Vt20 million to assist the Rural Fire Service in Australia.
- Tens of thousands have been knitting for the animals! The founder of Rescue Craft Co, has said the group now has more than enough koala mittens to help the injured, rescued animals, and is asking crafters to focus more on Joey pouches for baby kangaroos, wraps to swaddle baby bats, and nests for homeless birds.