Australia is burning. Our Sunburnt Country has been ablaze since September, and our volunteer firefighters are battling more than 130 fires, many of which are “too big to put out”.
The situation is worse than ever before with over 15 million hectares of bush destroyed, thousands of homes burnt to the ground, and the wildlife population decimated beyond repair. And the summer season is far from over.
Facing facts like these, it’s understandable to feel a sense of devastation, helplessness and despair. But there are things you can do to aid in the bushfire crisis and help those affected.
Here’s how you can help right now.
1. Donate funds
If you can, a donation to one of the credible organisations assisting those involved in the bushfire crisis will go a long way — no matter the size of the donation. Even the cost of a morning coffee is helpful. A donation to the organisations listed below directly impact the firies, families affected, and animal population.
Donate to the NSW Rural Fire Service
Donate to the Victorian Bushfire Relief
Donate to the Rural Fire Brigades Association in Queensland
Donate to the South Australian Country Fire Association
Communities affected —
Donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund
Donate to the Salvation Army Disaster Appeal
Donate to St Vincent de Paul Society Bushfire Appeal
Donate to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal
Donate to the young families of volunteers killed in the bushfires
Donate to Foodbank
Donate to BlazeAid
2. Donate food, clothes and furniture
Physical donations by the way of non-perishable food, clothing and homewares mean the world to communities who have lost their homes and possessions. In saying that, authorities on the ground have been inundated with donations, and have expressed their sincere thanks to those who have provided items, but are urging people to help bushfire victims by the way of cash donations.
Victoria’s rural fire service says: “Experience tells us that donation of money is much more effective and provides more flexibility than the donation of material items or pre-loved goods.”
If you’re unable to make monetary donations and wish to donate items instead, consider dropping off a bag to your local Red Cross, Vinnies or Salvation Army Store. After all, the funds for every item purchased there are sent to those in need.
3. Volunteer your time
Whether you help transport supplies to rural areas or simply cook a meal, there are many ways you can directly help people in need.
Organisations like Foodbank work to get food and drink supplies to firies and communities affected. Keep an eye on the Foodbank Facebook page to hear of any upcoming trips and find out what donations or volunteer help is needed.
BlazeAid is another organisation looking for volunteers. Set up in 2009 after the Black Saturday fires, the volunteers in this group help rural areas after natural disaster to build fences and structures in the months that follow.
The Organic & Regenerative Investment Co-operative (ORICoop) is yet another group seeking volunteers to help farmers after recent fires with tree planting and farm support.
If you’re short for time or are unable to head into bushfire-affected areas, consider lending a hand to causes that contribute to a more sustainable earth. An hour of picking up rubbish at your local park will contribute in creating a greener planet.
4. Buy direct from fire-affected businesses
You can directly help business affected by fires by buying into damaged businesses. Spend With Them is a wonderful initiative championed by Turia Pitt and Grace McBride. The Instagram account set up by the duo has been live less than 24 hours, but already has a 45k following at time of writing.
“Fires have devastated communities across Australia. And once ‘this’ is all over, it won’t be over for the people and businesses in fire-ravaged towns, especially ones like ours who rely on the tourism dollar to survive,” McBride wrote on Instagram.
“We’ll be featuring products you can buy online from businesses in fire-affected towns across Australia. Long after the threat is over and the choppers stop flying overhead. Long after summer ends and the wail of sirens ceases in the streets. They’ll need you. So, help them rebuild. Make them feel heard. Spend with them.”
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This legend @miltonmushrooms is a mushroom grower on the south coast. Marita’s property was burned when fires swept through it twice in the last few weeks. Miraculously the house (and her 20 year old donkey) survived but the rest of the property was badly burned. You can #spendwiththem by picking up locally designed greeting cards, stickers, tote bags, zines, and her incredible Reishi Spiced Cacao and Just Reishi mushroom powders. Visit miltonmushrooms.com.au ❤️?
5. Offer up a spare bed to those displaced
The organisation Find A Bed was set up to help evacuees find a safe and comfortable place to stay.
The site will match those needing a bed with people happy to offer up a spare. Find A Bed will also help find a place for animals. If you have a spare bed or room and are looking for a way to help, consider registering as a host on the site now.
Airbnb also recently announced the Open Homes initiative which offers free, temporary housing to those who need it. This includes relief workers, residents who’ve had to evacuate and others impacted by the fires.
6. Follow drought restrictions and live sustainably
Another way you can help now and in the future? Follow strict drought restrictions and move to a greener way of living.
Climate change has well and truly exacerbated the conditions around these horrific bushfires, and we should make every effort to reduce our footprints on both a micro and macro scale.
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Welcome to Environmentalism Class. I’m Miss Wignall and I’m the teacher who figures out what she’s teaching by googling and reading articles the night before class ? It’s complicated isn’t it? None of it feels clear cut. It’s hard to know what are the best steps to take. It’s hard to know because different actions or purchases move us further towards climate crisis in a multilayered way and so it’s becomes difficult to measure. I made this little chart for you to copy if you want (slide 2). You can fill it out with actions that you’ve thought about, or want to try, but feel paralysed by overwhelm. It might help you to know which action to take first. What’s the easiest thing that has the biggest impact for change? I filled it out for myself (slide 1), but this definitely isn’t a list for all- it’s things I’ve thought about that I’d like to do in my life, and I’ve marked them on the chart based on what I know about impact and my personal feelings of what’s easy for me. It will look different for everyone. I wrote a list of the ways something can impact the environment (slide 3). This isn’t a comprehensive list. Just the things I know about. I’d be happy for you to share your: •ideas of ways to take action •ways actions impact the environment. I’m not knowledgeable, I’m a teacher googling things the night before, and encouraging you take part in the discussions so we can all learn from each other. Your homework is to draw the chart and fill it out with your own ideas. ? Then choose one action to take. Take action! Jill ? On Fridays I post about climate action in support of the young people across the globe who are school striking on Fridays. #jillsclimatedrawings
7. Show up and make your voice heard
Social media is a privilege to be used for good. Your platform, no matter how big or small, has the ability to connect you with others and spread crucial messages in times like these.
Educate yourself on the effects of climate change and gather facts from credible news sources and scientific reports — then use these findings to push for action.
Show up to climate change rallies. Write a letter to your local MP demanding action in the wake of the bushfires. Start conversations with your friends and family about what is happening to our country. Drive change and demand action.