The new year is often a time of hope and new beginnings, but for some the holiday season was filled with fiery devastation; a horrific end to 2019 and rough beginning to 2020.
While I watch Australia burning from the safety of my home in the seemingly small part of Australia that currently is not on fire, I feel helpless. I am not a firefighter or emergency service worker of any kind working on the frontline. I am not a celebrity with money to donate similar to Chris Hemsworth or Pink. I am not an elite athlete able to pledge donations for every ace I hit in Tennis like Nick Kyrgios, or six I hit in cricket like Glenn Maxwell. BUT you know what, I am a single girl with access to the internet and social media, with a voice to spark a conversation, spreading knowledge and awareness.
From September 2019 fires heavily impacted New South Wales and Queensland, by November fires sent NSW into a catastrophic state of emergency; with fires continuing to break out across the states Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia. To date 6.3 million hectares of land has been burnt and continues to burn. 24 people have lost their lives, including volunteer fight fighters, with many more still missing. More than 2000 homes have been lost. An estimated 500 million wild animals killed, with almost 1/3 of the NSW Koala population being apart of that figure. All these are estimates based on current scientific knowledge available on population density, and until the fires have been extinguished there is no possible way in surveying just how extensive the damage really is.
With much of the summer still to come in Australia, the fires are not expected to be out any time soon. This is not a short-term issue, this is long-term, and the consequences are going to be felt for months to come. Every little bit of help now and in the future counts. If, like me, you feel a little helpless, here are five ways you can help.
Support Local Businesses
Spend With Them and Empty Esky are growing initiatives with the aim to connect the public to the local businesses directly impacted by the bushfires. The concept is designed to help put money directly back into the communities who need it the most. Both Instagram pages as tagged regularly promote and share businesses whom have been directly affected by the bushfires where consumers can purchase online and in person (dependent on business capabilities).
Furthermore, other Australian (and international) business are stepping in to do there part to help those affected by the devastation of the bushfires, by pledging to donate sales and profits towards varying charities supporting the bushfire appeal.
I utilised this opportunity when purchasing Christmas gifts for a group on my international friends when I came across The Little Keepsake selling Koala themed scrunchies and tote bags as a bushfire fundraiser, donating 100% profits to Koala’s in Care Inc. What began as a small gift, has now become a symbol of worldwide support for each other, but in this time of need, support for my home country.
There has been an astounding amount of businesses doing the same. Here are a few more currently supporting pledging to support the bushfires:
Em Carey Designs: “We Are One” A3 Drawing, with 100% profits donated to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal.
Hansen and Gretel: “Shoalhaven Hat”, profits from all sales in-stores and online on this hat will be donated to the Australian Bushfire Crisis until hats are sold out.
Macgraw: “Year SOS” adult and kids T-shirts, 100% of profits will be equally divided between the below charities: NSW rural fire service, wires wildlife rescue, and country women’s association disaster relief
Brownes Dairy: Are pledging to donate 10c from every 2L and 3L Brownes Dairy Full Cream, HiLo and Skim Milk to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund until February 6th.
Attend and Participate in Fundraising Events
With many people trying to do their bit for the community, there is a growing number of fundraising events in efforts to support those affected by the bushfires. Some that I have come across include:
Bushfire Fundraiser: With many local business chipping in, this raffle has over $50,000 worth of prize donations, with all ticket proceeds being donated to the bushfire appeal. Tickets are not yet available, follow them on Instagram for more information, including ticket release.
Fire Aid: Live benefit concert featuring four of WA’s bands, John Butler, The Waifs, San Cisco, and Stella Donnelly, Friday 31st January at Fremantle Arts Centre Fremantle. With a second show on Saturday 1st February with The Waifs, John Butler, and San Cisco performing again with Carla Geneve joining.
Yoga in the Park Family Event: Family fun morning of yoga and nature crafts and play in the park hosted by Inner Peace and Yoga and Kids Nature Club, Friday 31st January Jualbup Lake Shenton Park.
Bunbury Concert & Family Entertainment: Concert with food trucks, family fun and entertainment including jumping castes, face painting, cake stalls, raffles and silent auctions, Saturday 1st February at Graham Bricknell memorial Music Shell Bunbury.
Boundaries for Bushfires: WA’s biggest sports stars and media personalities take to the iconic WACA Ground for the Boundaries 4 Bushfires Charity T20 Cricket Match, Friday 7th February at WACA Ground East Perth.
Bootcamp for Bushfires: Hosted by Bec V Personal Training, Thursday 13th February at Snap Fitness 24/7 Canning Vale.
With Love from WA: Bushfire fundraiser hosted by the Rosemount Hotel featuring more than 30 live bands and DJ’s, Sunday 16th February Rosemount Hotel North Perth.
SA4SA Bushfire Appeal Gala Dinner: Black tie 18+ event featuring a 3 course dinner, premium wine, beer and soft drinks package, live band and entertainment, Friday 31st January Adelaide Convention Centre Adelaide.
Bushfire T20 Showdown: Cricket and football unite in a special T20 cricket match, with some of the Port Adelaide Football Club and Adelaide Football Club players getting involved in this match on Sunday 2nd February at Adelaide Oval Adelaide.
Fire Relief Fundraising Night: Mount Lofty House fundraising event, a $2000 per couple ticket will include a seven-course dinner paired with Adelaide Hills wines, and overnight accomodation, plus more treats, Saturday 8th February at Mount Lofty House Adelaide Hills.
Cudlee Creek Bushfire Benefit Concert: A live music concert with a showcase of local Adelaide Hills businesses, food and beverages, and other entertainment, Sunday 9th February at National Motor Museum Grouds Birdwood. Register your interest in attending here.
Tomcat: Bushfire Appeal Gig hosted by Prunda and Cedarsmoke featuring 17 Brisbane bands, Saturday 8th February at Tomcat Fortitude Valley
Helping Heros on the Lawn: Howard Smith Wharves have partnered with Rush Entertainment to deliver live entertainment featuring Samantha Jade, Alfie Arcuri, Lai Utovou, and more. Including activities for the whole family with face painting, jumping castles, photo booths, table and lawn games, with Foodbank drop off stations, Saturday 8th February at Howard Smith Wharves Brisbane City.
Broadsheet’s Bushfire Relief Twilight Picnic: Broadsheet is bring Melbourne best food, drink, and DJ’s together for a special twilight picnic, Sunday 9th February at National Gallery of Victoria St Kilda.
Down to Earth: Fire and Climate Relief Concert featuring Thelma Plum, Briggs, Gang of Youths, and Cash Sultana, Wednesday 26th February at Sidney Myer Music Bowl Melbourne.
AFL Bushfire Relief Double Header: NAB AFLW match between Collingwood Football Club and Melbourne Football Club, followed by State of Origin match between Victoria and Allstars, Friday 28th February at Marvel Stadium Docklands.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Home Bushfire Relief Art Auction: Over fifty of Australia’s leading and emerging contemporary artists are working in solidarity to raise funds for the Australian bushfire crisis for a one night only live and silent art auction event, Wednesday 12th February at National Art School Darlinghurst, Register here.
Fire Fight Australia: Concert for national bushfire relief featuring 5 Seconds of Summer, Alice Cooper, Amy Shark, Baker Boy, Conrad Sewell, Daryl Braithwaite, Delta Goodrem, Grinspoon, Guy Sebastian, Hilltop Hoods, Icehouse, Illy, Jessica Mauboy, John Farnham, k.d.lang, Lee Kernaghan, Michael Bublé (live cross), Olivia Newton-John, Peking Duk, Pete Murray, Queen + Adam Lambert, Tina Arena, and William Barton, Sunday 16th February at ANZ Stadium Sydney. Get Tickets here.
Comedy Steps Up for Bushfire Relief: Outdoor gala performance on the Opera House steps and forecourt featuring performers including Arj Barker, Carl Barron, Urzila Carlson, Joel Creasey, Kitty Flanagan, Becky Lucas, Tim Minchin, Julia Morris, Harry Shearer, Lawrence Mooney, Steph Tisdell and more, Monday 16th March
Time, Resources, Money
Donating directly is one of the best ways you can help out, whether you donate your time by volunteering, donate resources such as food and medical supplies, or donate money directly to the companies involved with bushfire relief.
Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild: A craft group running an emergency response for wildlife and animals caught in the bushfires. Please check what is needed as they continue to update their list.
Tradies for Fire Affected Communities: linking tradies willing to donate their time and skill in the bushfire relief.
GiveIt: A non-for-profit connecting those who have with those who need. This site allows you to search based on disasters connecting you with those specifically affected by the bushfires.
Melbourne Period Project and National Homeless Collective: Periods do not stop with disasters such as bushfires. The Melbourne Period Project is working to provide sanitary items, toiletries, and other essentials to those affected or displaced by the bushfires.
Food Bank: Provides food and funds to those affected or displaced by bushfires.
New South Wales Rural Fire Service: Directly supports and benefits volunteer firefighters in NSW.
Australian Red Cross: Works to support people at evacuation centres, with physiological first aid and emergency assistance.
WIRES Wildlife Rescue: Working to rescue wildlife in NSW
Koala’s In Care: A non-for-profit group committed to the welfare and preservation of wild koala population and their habitats.
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital: A licensed wildlife rehabilitation centre, with a huge role in koala conservation.
Adhere to Fire Bans and Drought/Water Restrictions
Since November 8, 183 people have been charged or cautioned for bushfire-related offences with 24 arrested for deliberately starting bushfires by NSW Police. While it seems like common sense to adhere to fire bans to prevent further fires, this is not always the case. A very easy and free way you can contribute is to know and understand what restrictions your local area is currently on, and do not start fires!
With bushfires and droughts both heavily affecting water sources and availability it is important to limit domestic water usage. Again by understanding the water restrictions in your area you are helping do your part.
Use Your Voice
Another very simple and free way to contribute.
Continue and share the conversation, spreading knowledge and awareness.
Rally around the community and support others; checking in on friends, family, and neighbours.
If you are directly or indirectly affected by the bushfires, my heart goes out to you. I can’t speak for everyone, but know you are not alone in this. Do not be afraid to reach out for help if you need it. Australia and the world supports you! We are one, but we are many!
Resources and Assistance Available for those Affected
Disaster Recovery Payment: one-off financial assistance to eligible Australians adversely affected by the bushfires, with $1,000 available for each eligible adult, and $500 for each eligible child, and is available for people who have been seriously injured, have lost their homes or whose homes have been directly damaged, or are the immediate family members of a person who has died, as a direct result of the bushfires
Australian Red Cross Grants: immediate grants of $5,000 are available to bushfire victims who have lost their homes.
Bushfire Financial Relief: Melissa Brown, financial advisor and author, has collated of bushfire financial relief information, including the contact information of the financial hardship teams at the various banks across Australia
Birdie and The Fire: a story for young children about recovering from fires
Online Trauma Counselling: free online trauma counselling for those affected by the bushfires offered by Ritual Counselling.
Beyond Blue: free resource and support for those dealing with the emotional impact of a disaster.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
NOTE: There are so many more fundraisers, businesses, and people working incredibly hard to do their part in supporting those affected and displaced by fires. I wish I could mention them all, but due to the sheer number I could only acknowledge a few, I will continue to do updates as I can of new events happening and businesses doing their part to fundraise money. Keep up the amazing efforts everyone!