This beautiful land, the country I call home, is currently up in flames. This bushfire crisis is the worst that Australia has ever seen, and it has only just begun.
Millions of animals have perished, thousands of homes have burnt to the ground, and numerous lives have been lost. This is an eco-political crisis, a climate catastrophe and nothing short of a disaster.
Bushfires happen regularly in Australia, but this is unlike anything we’ve seen before. It was predicted by many, but now we’re truly in the midst of it. As much as I would like to say that this will never happen again, deep down we all fear that it will. What we are seeing here in 2020 is just the beginning unless we make some serious changes…
Here’s what you — a fellow human being — can do during the bushfire crisis here in Australia… Right now, and in the future too:
The most effective way to help, no matter whether you’re in Australia or on the other side of the planet, is to donate financially to those on the frontline. I understand that this isn’t something that everyone has the ability to do, but if you are in a position to give, know that every dollar counts.
Here are some incredible organisations that need our help:
NSW RFS (Rural Fire Service)
Tasmania Fire Service
Red Cross AU
St Vincent de Paul Bushfire Appeal
Food Bank Australia
First Nations Fire Relief Fund
Warriors 4 Wildlife
Wires Wildlife Rescue
(These are just a few suggestions, so please do your own research! There are also many GoFundMe fundraisers for the families and communities that have been directly impacted, but please ensure that you research them first. There are unfortunately a few looters around, which is incredibly heartbreaking)
During a time of crisis, it’s understandable to want to donate physical goods, but this can often end up with organisations being inundated with items that aren’t necessarily needed. If you want to donate physical products such as non-perishable foods, animal feed, medical items, clothing etc. please ensure that you ring up organisations and ask them what is really needed first. Do not just drop off your unwanted products… Make sure it’s actually required so that these charities don’t have to sort through an endless amount of stuff.
Another amazing website to consider is GIVIT, which lists all the items that are needed, as well as drop off locations for you to give directly to the recipient. On the contrary, if there is a specific item that you wish to donate, you can list it on the website with attached photos, and trusted charities will be able to take up your offer depending on what is required.
SPREAD THE WORD! Whether it’s places to donate, social media posts, news articles; both positive stories and heartbreaking ones too… Share share SHARE in whatever way you can. We all need to do our part in keeping this conversation going. After all, this is a climate crisis, and it is going to affect us all.
Not everyone can donate money, but you might be able to donate your time…
Keep an eye on your local organisations for those that need help. There are many local and national non-for-profits looking for assistance during these testing times. Whether it’s delivering food, applying to volunteer as a firefighter, helping with social media for local businesses, distributing donated items… The list is endless.
Keep an eye on social media for notices for help, or contact your local organisations and ask if any assistance is needed. Often they need all hands on deck!
Give your Craft
Are you good at sewing or knitting? Maybe you can make some koala mittens, joey pouches or bat wraps for our injured wildlife! But once again, please ensure that you contact the wildlife orgs first to see what is required.
Maybe you’re a builder, a fencer, a chef or you have a specific skill to donate… Search around and see if you can lend your craft where it’s most needed!
Support the Affected Communities
Leave a gift voucher at the supermarket counter for a family in need. Follow @spendwiththem and @buyfromthebush on Instagram to help support the impacted towns and businesses. Visit the communities during the time of rebuilding. Buy from the local stores when the fires are over; help to rebuild their economy. Support them in whatever way is needed… These communities will need continued and long term support long after the fires have passed.
Dig deep into your Aussie spirit and spread the love in any way that you possibly can.
Strike, Rally, Sign Petitions + MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD
GET LOUD! Educate yourself on the issues – on our government and its policies – and dig deep below the surface. Join the climate strikes, attend a rally, sign online petitions, send a message to the governor-general… Make your voice heard, loud and clear.
Write to your Local MP
If, like me, you are angry at the government for their inaction, use that fire in your belly to create real effective change. Write to your local MP to demand action and help create impactful legislative change. When a passionate electorate of voters sends a letter demanding change on a particular subject, politicians will not ignore. They need your vote, and they are there to represent you.
Linked below is a wonderful example letter by Anna Richards that you can print off and send to your federal MP. It demands environmental action to prevent a crisis like this from ever reoccurring… Our nation and our wildlife depend on it.
All you have to do is find the correct details of your representative, fill in the blanks, and the work is done for you… Simple.
No matter the time of year, the Red Cross Lifeblood blood donation service is in constant need of support… It’s an incredible gesture at the best of times, but giving blood becomes incredibly vital during times of crisis.
Adopt a Koala
In the 2019/2020 bush fire crisis, thousands of koalas perished and are being treated for severe burns. Adopting a koala through the WWF, 1300Koalaz, or directly through hospitals such as Port Macquarie Koala Hospital helps with the rescue, treatment and release of injured animals, as well as conservation and the expansion of their habitat.
As we all know, our precious koala habitat has been severely affected by this disaster and their population needs our help in order to survive.
Follow Drought Restrictions and Fire Bans
It seems obvious, but it’s important. The restrictions are there for a very good reason.
Leave Water Out for Wildlife
Leave a shallow water dish in your backyard during the soaring temperatures for our precious wildlife to drink. Make sure that you keep your pets away so that they have a safe area to access.
If you don’t have anything shallow, put something in the water to help the animals get out if they get stuck (like a brick or a rock that they can step on) or a branch to help them pull themselves out. The last thing you want is for our furry friends to get trapped!
Amplify First Nation Voices
“Some of these places have never burned, let alone all at once – but for First Nations people it is also burning up our memories, our sacred places, all the things which make us who we are.” – Lorena Allam
For thousands of years our First Nation community have cared deeply and passionately for this country; they live in harmony with this land and know it better than any one else… It’s time that we pass the mic and centre their voices.
Remember Community Spirit
Open up your home (you can post your home on Find a Bed so that evacuees can easily find a safe place to stay), lend a helping hand, give people space where it’s needed. During such devastating times, it’s vital that we stick together, rise up, and treat each other with kindness!
Demand climate action in your next vote. It’s never been more important.