australia bushfires

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The Australian Fires: How You Can Help

Donating Money is Not the Only Way to Do Your Part

So far, over 46 million acres of land has burned in Australia during the 2019 – 2020 bushfire season. Nearly 6,000 buildings have been destroyed of which over 2,800 were homes. At least 33 people and around a billion animals have been killed. Some endangered species have now been driven to extinction. For koalas, this epic disaster could mean functional extinction since around 80% of their natural habitat has been wiped out. Experts believe that it could take as much as a century for Australia’s animals to recover from the bushfires.

Not Just Australia Is Affected

In a world where biodiversity is in drastic decline, the impact these fires have on the local ecosystem, and ultimately our global food production, is potentially devastating. Some of the other areas affected by these devastating fires include:

  • Public health, including mental health.
  • Economic damage to industries like farming and tourism.
  • An increase in greenhouse gas emissions which negatively impacts the climate.
  • Major environmental pollution even as far as New Zealand and parts of Latin America.
Property damaged by the East Gippsland fires in Sarsfield

Property damaged by the East Gippsland fires in Sarsfield, Victoria, Australia January 1, 2020. AAP Image/News Corp Pool, Jason Edwards/via REUTERS

How Can We Help?

The destruction has left the world reeling and many of us are wondering how we can help. It is encouraging to see how people from all over the world are doing their best to assist those affected by these devastating fires. Even a courageous dog did her part. A six-year-old Border collie named Patsy helped save her owner’s farm and livestock during the fires when she led 900 sheep to safety as the fires raged. While financial donations are the obvious way to help, t there are other ways in which we can help. Here are some ideas:

  • Check-in with trusted sources like local councils and emergency services agencies – They are the ones who know exactly what is
    going on and what is needed and will provide essential, current information on the disaster situation and what help is needed at the
    time.
  • Book a holiday to Australia – By going on holiday to Australia later in the year, you will be contributing to struggling local economies.
    When deciding which tour operators or hotels to use, try to choose those who have strong links to conservation. While the carbon
    footprint of long-haul flights is unavoidable, you could offset some of it by giving to a tree-planting organisation like Tree Sisters.
  • Offer a bed – If you own property in Australia or are in an area that is not affected and have a bed or two to spare, you can use the
    Find a Bed initiative to offer space to people and animals who have been displaced by the fires.
  • Donate goods – There are people who have literally lost everything they owned. Their homes and all their belongings have
    succumbed to the fire or have been damaged by the vast quantities of smoke and ash in surrounding areas. Through organisations
    like Givit, you can donate furniture, household items, clothing, or toiletries to those who need it.
  • Volunteer – Even when the fires are contained, Australia will be going through a long recovery and rebuilding process. As soon as the
    immediate danger has passed and professionals like firefighters have left the area, the people left behind will have all kinds of needs.
    If you reside in Australia or want to travel there to help, there is also the option to register as a Spontaneous Emergency Volunteer.

Who to Donate to

For those who prefer to make financial donations, there are several options. It may not be clear exactly which organisation to support, even when you know which cause is closest to your heart. Here is some guidance on how to support people affected by the fires, wildlife, or the firefighters who are fighting this incredible battle to contain the fire.

Australian bushfire: trees silhouettes and smoke from bushfires covers the sky and glowing sun barely seen through the smoke. Catastrophic fire danger, NSW, Australia

Donating to Evacuees

Supporting Wildlife

  • WIRES actively rescues thousands of animals in Australia and needs all the help it can get.
  • The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital treats koalas suffering from terrible burns and is installing automatic drinking stations in burnt
    areas to help animals searching for water. They are also establishing a koala breeding program with the hope that the species will
    survive the disaster.
  • The RSPCA in New South Wales is rescuing and treating pets and wild animals who are affected by the fires.

Helping Firefighters

  • The NSW Rural Fire Service has set up a specific fund that helps the families of firefighters who have been killed on duty.
  • The Country Fire Service in South Australia supports volunteer firefighters and can use all the help it can get.
  • The Country Fire Authority is not only actively fighting the fires, they are also helping to manage locals who are helping to provide
    accommodation to displaced people.

Whether you choose to give a financial donation, a donation of goods, or to donate your time, we can all help the people and animals affected by the bushfires in Australia.