The most effective ways you can support bushfire relief efforts
Our country is on fire. Every day our feeds are flooded with the news of conditions worsening and fires spreading and sadly, at this stage, there is no end in sight. Lives have tragically been lost. Homes have been lost. Acres upon acres of land has been destroyed. Millions of wildlife have perished. We are in a state of emergency. Australia’s incredible firefighters and volunteers are working around the clock to help manage this crisis and – especially for those of us not directly affected – it’s easy to feel helpless when you’re not on the front line. One thing that is very apparent is that the affected communities and fire services need our support – but where should you start? There are a number of incredible charities and organisations that are focusing their resources on bushfire relief, assisting firefighters, refugees and wildlife by means of shelter, financial assistance, mental health support, rehabilitation and more. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, we’re here to help – here’s our go-to list for you to send your support to.
Australian Red Cross
The Australian Red Cross is providing essential support to bushfire-affected communities across all states. Donations to its Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund will go towards supporting volunteers in evacuation centres who are providing psychological first aid and running Register.Find.Reunite to help people get in touch with loved ones.
As part of the official emergency response network, Foodbank is acting as a conduit between the general public and grocery sectors looking to donate essential supplies to areas stricken by the fires. Foodbank’s bushfire emergency appeal is accepting two kinds of donations – funding and food and groceries. For every $1 donated, Foodbank can provide $6 worth of supplies to affected communities thanks to partnerships within the grocery sector. Foodbank is also accepting donations of non-perishable food and other essential grocery items at warehouses across Australia. Click here to donate or find your nearest drop-off point.
NSW Rural Fire Service
The firefighters on the front line of the bushfire effort are, by and large, volunteers. The NSW RFS is accepting donations to help support its network of on-duty firefighters (donations made directly to local brigades are also encouraged), and the organisation has also opened dedicated bank accounts to collect donations for the families of volunteer firefighters who have been tragically killed while on duty this fire season. Actor, writer and comedian Celeste Barber has also started a fundraiser for The Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service & Brigades Donations Fund, which is currently sitting at an incredible total of $34 million dollars – and rising! You can also support fire services in other states, including Victoria’s CFA, the CFS Foundation in South Australia, Queensland’s RFBAQ and the Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades in Western Australia.
Fire Relief Fund for First Nations Communities
Neil Morris – a Yorta Yorta First Nations man – has launched a funding campaign to support First Nations peoples that have been affected by the fires ravaging the east coast. The fundraiser aims to deliver culturally sensitive and direct support to affected communities, covering temporary relocation costs, replacement of vital items, other basic amenity and emergency relief costs, and refurbishment of damaged property. After handily eclipsing its initial target, the fundraiser is now hoping to raise half-a-million dollars. You can contribute here.
Bendigo Bank’s Community Enterprise Foundation
Victorian communities continue to be impacted by the fires raging across the state, and now the Victorian Government is teaming up with Bendigo Bank’s charitable arm and The Salvation Army to establish the VIC Bushfire Disaster Appeal. All of the donated funds will go directly to communities in need, as determined by an advisory panel chaired by former Victorian deputy premier Pat McNamara.
WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.) is Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organisation, and as such is one of the main bodies responsible for rehabilitating and preserving Australian wildlife affected by these catastrophic fires. Countless numbers of native animals have perished in these fires, therefore support for organisations like WIRES is crucial for protecting our wildlife that is becoming increasingly vulnerable to extinction. Donate to the WIRES emergency fund here.
Bushfire trauma and ongoing mental-health support
Two cultural icons are teaming up to raise funds and awareness of an often overlooked aspect of natural disasters – ongoing mental-health support. Will Connolly (known to many as ‘Eggboy’) and actor Magda Szubanski are co-ordinating with foundations and charities such as Beyond Blue to create a care chest of funding for long-term initiatives, supporting victims long after the fires have gone out. Click here to support the cause.
Recent estimates predict that more than 480 million animals have been killed by fires since September in NSW alone. The World Wildlife Fund is calling upon donations to help restore what has been lost. Funds will help help plant the first 10,000 urgently needed trees, provide emergency care and medicine for injured koalas, protect existing forest and woodland, and pressure governments to strengthen laws that prevent excessive tree-clearing. Donate here. The rescue collective is also working to aid Australia’s fire-affected wildlife, including food, water and medicine. You can make a donation here.
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital
Koalas are among the most vulnerable victims of these bushfires. In response, Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is running a GoFundMe campaign to finance koala rescue groups and to distribute drinking stations to relieve dehydrated koalas across affected regions. Since its launch, the campaign has raised more than $3.5 million, allowing for the expansion of the campaign’s aim to include starting a wild koala breeding program. Koalas in care is also working to help the plight of koalas – you can donate to its effort here.
GIVIT is a national not-for-profit organisation connecting those who have with those who need. The platform has several charitable initiatives on the go, but it has teamed up with local governments to target aid (funding and items) at bushfire-affected communities. You can view GIVIT’s Queensland bushfire appeal here, and its New South Wales appeal here.
St Vincent de Paul Society
The Vinnies Bushfire Appeal is raising funds to support families caught up in the bushfires. Donations will be used to provide food and clothing to displaced people as well as bedding, furniture, appliances and bill assistance to those whose homes have been damaged or destroyed.
Salvo Emergency Services are on the frontline of the bushfire crisis, providing meals to evacuees and frontline responders at multiple affected locations. Donations to The Disaster Appeal mean they can stay as long as it takes to help local communities make a full recovery.
Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal
Due to an increase in intense climate disasters, FRRR have decided to start a perpetual Disaster Resilience Recovery Fund. Donations go towards supporting disaster preparedness and disaster recovery in communities vulnerable to regular crises like the current bushfires.
Image: Firefighter Ian Dray of Wallerawang RFS, supplied by Gena Dray.