As I see the images and read the articles about the wildfires in Australia. I think about the wildfires I’ve fought as part of the Lone Oak Volunteer Fire Department. I cannot imagine what the firefighters, most of which are volunteer just like in the US, are going through with such a monumental challenge. Their continent is on fire. Millions of acres and an unimaginable number of animals, plants and trees – some of which may be completely eliminated – an entire ecosystem devastated.
It hurts my heart.
Take a look at this excellent article (and from which the ‘how to help’ section below was pulled) giving you a detailed overview of the whole situation: https://www.cnet.com/how-to/australian-fires-everything-we-know-and-how-you-can-help/
How You Can Help
A number of organizations and volunteer services are aiding in the firefighting and recovery efforts for affected communities. Whether you want to help the firefighting organizations, wildlife or just provide somewhere to sleep, you can find a ton of handy links and information below:
Direct to Firefighting Efforts
- The NSW Rural Fire Service has a donation page to support the firefighting efforts in New South Wales
- The Country Fire Authority is the state of Victoria’s rural firefighting service and you can donate directly here.
- The Country Fire Service in South Australia also takes direct donations.
- To help support firefighters in the state of Queensland, you can donate to the Rural Fire Brigades Association via their webpage.
Relief and Support Efforts
- Australia’s Red Cross Disaster relief and recovery fund helps support evacuation centers and recovery programs for the affected communities.
- A GoFundMe page has been set up as a relief fund for First Nations communities to offer “culturally sensitive, specific direct support to some of those communities with critical costs to cover expenses.”
- The Victorian Bushfire Appeal is where state premier Daniel Andrews is suggesting to donate. The appeal directs money to communities in need, giving directly to those affected by the fires.
- Foodbank is taking donations to help people in need during the crisis. You can donate at its website to the Victorian relief effort, which helps get relief for communities cut off from power and food.
- Givit is a not-for-profit organization that cares for those in need by letting you donate goods it then passes on. It accepts items or money at its donation page.
- The St Vincent de Paul society is helping people on the ground in rebuilding, providing food and clothing and emotional support. It has a donation page here.
- Longer term support for communities affected by the fires will be necessary once the fires settle and that’s where the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal comes in. You can donate to the FRRR here.
- The Salvation Army has a disaster appeal donations page set up to deliver support to local communities affected by the blazes.
- The RSPCA bushfire appeal is used to protect the pets, livestock and wildlife affected by bushfires, helping evacuate animals from disaster zones. Items like livestock pellets and possum boxes are also incredibly handy.
- The World Wildlife Fund accepts donations to help support conservation activities, particularly related to koalas. Money can help provide emergency care during bushfires.
- Zoos Victoria have established a Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund which funds emergency vet assistance and “scientific intervention.” You can donate to the fund here and it seems to accept PayPal and credit cards.
- The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital has already raised in excess of $2 million to help search for and protect the koalas in the region. You can donate at its GoFundMe page.
- The Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park was hit hard by the fires in South Australia. It’s asking for donations to help with vet costs, koala milk and extra enclosures on its GoFundMe page.
- Wires is an Australia wildlife rescue organization with a myriad ways to help Australia’s native fauna. Donations can be made through its website.
- Airbnb has established an emergency housing site for those displaced by the bushfires via its Open Homes initiative. You can book free accommodation in certain areas of New South Wales and Victoria.
- Similarly, Find A Bed, established by Australian writer Erin Riley, allows people to offer up a bed or locate a bed in NSW, Victoria and South Australia. It currently has 900 registered volunteers.
Fundraising and Auctions
- Actor and comedian Celeste Barber is running a fundraiser for the Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service and Brigades donations fund. You can donate on the fundraiser’s Facebook page.
- Comedian Nick Kroll and Aussie actor Joel Edgerton have started the hashtag #FightFireWithaFiver. They’re encouraging donations to the NSW RFS of $5.
- Another Twitter-based campaign — #AuthorsForFireys — is conducting an online auction to raise funds for the CFA. If you follow the hashtag you’ll find a ton of author’s offering services and goods for donations.
- Stranger Things actor Dacre Montgomery established his own GoFundMe on behalf of the Red Cross. The link to the GoFundMe is here.
- Actor Magda Szubanski and “Egg Boy” Will Connolly have established a GoFundMe to provide funds to services providing ongoing mental health support. You can donate to that fundraiser here.
- The original Wiggles (yes, the big red car drivers themselves) are doing an Over 18’s show at the Castle Hill RSL on Jan. 18. Tickets are on sale from Jan. 7 at this link.
- Australian cricket royalty Shane Warne will auction off his “baggy green” national team cap with proceeds going to the bushfire appeal. The auction ends on Jan. 10 and you can make your bids here.
- A useful resource if you want to buy products from rural communities is Australia’s Buy From The Bush. It highlights creators and artists from regional Australia you can buy from as they face drought and now bushfire.
- GenerOZity is a charity marathon event in Australia including some of the country’s biggest content creators. Creators will be livestreaming to raise funds for the fires starting Jan. 16 and the charity has a fundraiser set up with a $10,000 goal.
- GamerAid is an Australian esports and gaming community initiative which has established a GoFundMe page to donate to fire services across the country. It’s also teamed up with content creation team Misfits on a merch drive with profits directed to the relief efforts.
- The No Sign of Rain print, by renowned Australian artist BossLogic, can be bought from the online store with 100% of proceeds going to the Red Cross.
- The Make It Rain fundraiser is offering up unique online auction prizes from famous Australian musicians. A concert will be held on Jan. 8 and Jan. 9 in Byron Bay.
- Phoebe Waller-Bridge will be auctioning off her Golden Globes suit to aid in relief efforts. We’ll add extra information on how to bid for it when available.
- The Carlton Draft, a clothing store, has teamed up with former Australian Rules Football player Daniel Gorringe to raise funds via GoFundMe on behalf of the Red Cross. 100% of its profits (until Jan. 7) will go toward relief funds.
Mental Health Services
- There are great mental health services available to those who may need support or counselling in the crisis. Australians can chat to Lifeline online or call 13 11 14, and a similar service is provided by Beyond Blue (1300 22 46 36).
Respiratory equipment and where to buy P2 masks
- In many places across the country, smoke from the fires is having a negative impact on health. A great resource for where to buy P2 masks is Aussie website Finder. Similarly, Lifehacker Australia has a handy guide for where to buy.
- Sign a Change.org petition calling on the NSW Government to provide adequate respiratory equipment to firefighters to protect against harmful smoke.
Other things you can do
- Raise awareness! You can tweet and share and post this story — and dozens of others — all across the web. More eyeballs = more help.
- Run your online searches through Ecosia, which uses profits to plant trees where they’re needed most. Trees help reduce the carbon dioxide load. It can be added to Chrome.
- In the US, if you want to contact elected officials and make your voice heard about climate change action — you can do that here. For Australians, you can contact a member of Parliament at this link.