Australia is facing a state of crisis. It’s only the start of our usual peak fire season (January-February) and yet, it’s already hard to fathom the level of suffering and devastation caused by the Australian bushfires in the past five months.
Communities are shattered and firefighters exhausted as more than six million hectares of land has burned across parts of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia. To put that in perspective, that’s about twice the size of Belgium.
Thousands of homes have been destroyed and at least 24 lives lost, including three volunteer firefighters. That’s not including the loss of half a billion Australian wildlife where sadly, our slow-moving, loveable koalas have been the hardest hit. Reports claim nearly a third of New South Wales’s koala population have perished, with hundreds more needing serious care for burns.
And while it’s easy to feel helpless compared to those working tirelessly on the frontline, there is still plenty we can do. It is important now to provide as much support and relief to Australia’s impacted communities, firefighters, animals and victims, as we can. Here’s how you can help:
The easiest way to help is to donate money. Every cent counts and there are plenty of bushfire appeals you can contribute to.
- Support local fire brigades and volunteer firefighters by donating to the NSW Rural Fire Service, Victoria Country Fire Service, South Australian CFS and the Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland.
- Donate to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal to provide funds to communities in need, including East Gippsland and North East Victoria. Donate online here or at any Bendigo Bank branch. (See website for international donations)
- Gippsland also has its own Emergency Relief Fund which you can donate to.
- Donate to the families of the volunteer firefighters who tragically lost their lives while on duty this fire season.
- Australian Red Cross Disaster Recovery and Relief
The Red Cross has been providing emergency assistance to people in evacuation centres and recovery hubs across Australia. Donations will help them continue both immediate and long-term assistance.
- Salvation Army Disaster Appeal
Salvation Army teams are working at evacuation centres across multiple locations. Donations help provide meals to evacuees and frontline responders, and whatever support is needed at this time.
- St Vincent de Paul Society Bushfire Appeal
Vinnies are helping people deal with the aftermath of fires by providing essential resources that will help them get back on their feet financially and emotionally.
You can also contribute to the incredible Facebook fund set up by comedian Celeste Barber which has raised over $40 million. After receiving such a significant amount of donations, Celeste has confirmed the money will be distributed to fire brigades in all states, the Red Cross and families of those killed in the fires. Either way, your money will be going to a good cause.
If you would rather donate physical supplies such as food or clothing, here are ways you can do so:
- The GIVIT Disaster and Emergency Recovery Service support Australian charities by matching their needs with donations given by the public. This ensures displaced residents receive exactly what they need when they need it. See what is currently needed here.
- Foodbank teams are working hard across Australia to give food and groceries to areas in need. Currently, they are after public donations of food, water, groceries and pet food, which will be packaged and delivered to fire-damaged regions in NSW, Victoria and South Australia. Find out more here.
You can also look out for donation drop-off points in your local area however keep in mind the logistics and limited space for hold large amounts of physical donations – especially items which are not necessities.
Support the animals
Australia’s wildlife has perhaps been the most vulnerable during these extensive bushfires and the organisations working to save them are in need of our help.
- WIRES Emergency Fund was set up to help the NSW charity manage the immense number of animals needing care during this bushfire crisis. See how you can donate here.
- Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund set up by Zoos Victoria was created to assist in raising the much-needed emergency funds to support all veterinary care and the feeding of animals whose habitats have been destroyed. Donate here.
- RSPCA Bushfire Appeal is taking donations to help protect animals in threatened or affected areas, including helping evacuate them and taking them to safety before assessing and healing any injuries. Donate here.
- WWF Bushfire Emergency was set up to help get emergency funds for injured wildlife and help restore the habitats that have been lost. Donate here.
- Victorian Bushfire Appeal set up by Wildlife Victoria will distribute donations to wildlife shelters and carers to help rebuild enclosures and equipment that they have lost in the fires so that they can continue their work saving animals. Donate here.
- Koalas in Care is a non-profit organisation run by volunteers fundraising to provide for the koalas that are admitted into care. The areas they cover include, Greater Taree, Great Lakes and Gloucester areas of NSW. Donate here.
- Kangaroo Islands Koalas and wildlife Go Fund Me page to care for injured wildlife and provide pain relief, antibiotics, treatment to wounds. Donate here.
- Currumbin Wildlife Hospital is looking for donations to support their vital work of treating, rehabilitating and releasing sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife. As you can imagine, there have been a lot of patients during this bushfire crisis. Donate here.
- Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is raising money to install animal drinking stations in burnt areas, and to set up a koala breeding program. Donate here.
- Adelaide & Hills Koala Rescue Go Fund Me – 1300Koalaz have been inundated with koala patients this fire season. Donate here to help them keep saving lives.
Support local businesses
This is not a quick fix. The impact on our economy is monumental. As travellers, we can do our bit by supporting these communities while they mend and rebuild what was lost. Once it’s safe and towns are on their way to recovery, plan a visit, shop from their businesses, stay their towns, provide the tourism dollars they missed out on this summer.
Spend With Them is a new Instagram account Founded by Turia Pitt and Gracie McBride featuring products you can buy online from businesses in fire-affected towns across Australia. The initiative hopes to encourage people to put money into businesses that need it most, long after the threat is over. ‘Help them rebuild. Make them feel heard. Spend with them,’ Turia wrote on Instagram.
Roadtrip for Good is a recently launched website which allows users to plan trips to regional areas and see which cafes, restaurants, shops and hotels are open for business in bushfire affected communities.
With thousands of homes destroyed, many people and their animals are in need of a place to stay.
- Airbnb Open Homes disaster relief service is allowing people to offer free, temporary housing to people who need a place to call home. There are dedicated NSW and Victoria pages for those in need of emergency housing.
- Find A Bed connects those with spare rooms with those in need of a place to sleep. All you need to do is register your spare bed.
- Helping Homes is a newly set up website for families in need of a temporary place to stay. Anyone wanting to open their homes to those in need can register their location and contact details on the website. There is also an option to specify if you can house animals or not.