While Australia has been burning, hundreds have lost their homes, thousands have been displaced, and at least 20 Australians have devastatingly lost their lives, with many more still missing. And current estimates suggest that over half a billion animals have also died in these fires, which includes an estimated 8,000 koalas.
A growing number of Australians are coming to terms with an uncertain future, and we’re not out of danger yet. In this time of absolute crisis, many across our country in the effected areas have been coming together to support each other. For those of us who are feeling helpless, there are many proactive ways that you can help.
Donate To The Australian Red Cross
The Australian Red Cross supports anyone affected by bushfires in many ways, such as by providing psycho-social support, as well as operating 21 relief centres where they are distributing food, water, and being there for those who have been evacuated.
The Red Cross have received over $5 million in donations since New Year’s Eve, but every every little bit counts, and you can add yours here. They also run a Register. Find. Reunite service where nearly 15,000 people have registered who are trying to re-connect with their families.
Donate To The NSW Rural Fire Service
Donations to New South Wales’ Rural Fire Service will directly benefit volunteer firefighters. You can use this link to donate to your local RFS brigade, or a general donation to the whole of the Rural Fire Service in NSW.
Donate To The Country Fire Authority In Victoria
The CFA in Victoria have two bank accounts that you can donate to here for either the general fund or for specific brigades.
Donate To The Queensland Rural Fire Brigades Association
You can donate finds to the RFBA which provides services, tools, and other resources needed by rural firefighters in Queensland by calling 1300 663 539 or donating online directly here.
Donate To The Country Fire Service In South Australia
Unlike other states, there is no minimum $10 donation for South Australia’s CFS so you can donate as little or as much as you like online here. They also accept bequests if you are willing to help them in the long term.
Donate to WIRES
Because of the combined crisis caused by droughts and bushfires, WIRES are busier now than they have ever been before. They received over 20,000 calls in December 2019 alone, as well as attending over 3,300 animal rescues. By donating to their emergency fund you can help them in their quest to rescue sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife.
Other Ways You Can Help:
Register at Find A Bed (findabed.info)
Find A Bed was set up by Aussie Erin Riley as a way to provide direct assistance to people displaced by the bushfire crisis. The service puts those in need in contact with people who have somewhere they can stay. Due to the urgency of finding accommodation, Find A Bed has stated that they are unable to screen everyone, but they will connect them via phone before making any accommodation decisions.
You can register online here or by calling 02 7202 6588. The service is currently available in NSW, VIC, and SA for anyone who has lost their homes, as well as anyone who has been evacuated, stuck in traffic somewhere, and basically anyone else in need.
Watch Out For The Wildlife
Wildlife who are escaping from the bushfires, living in intense heat, and breathing smoke-filled air are always going to be very thirsty, so leaving bowls of water outside is the best way to assist. It is a good idea to leave sticks in the bowls or on on the side so that smaller animals are able to escape if they happen to fall in.
WIRES also suggest keeping a towel and a cardboard box at home and in your car for any injured wildlife you may find, drape something over your pool edge and put bricks on your pool steps so that wildlife are able to climb out. Do not attempt to feed any burnt animal you find, and you need to wrap it loosely in 100% cotton fabric, and keep it inside a ventilated box and either transport it to your nearest vet or wait for a rescuer to collect it.
Join Airbnb’s Open Homes Program
Airbnb has officially activated their Open Homes program in Victoria and New South Wales which provides stranded bushfire victims with a place to stay. Instead of paying like with regular Airbnb listings, victims can apply via the Open Homes portal for free accommodation at their eligible listings in Victoria and New South Wales.
The program works by existing Airbnb hosts offering their listings to displaced residents as well as emergency service workers at no charge until January 17. Anyone with property located within specified regions on the Open Homes website can list their place to help victims of the bushfires. Airbnb assures that Open Home listings are still completely covered under their Airbnb Host Guarantee, which acts as a good security measure during these tough times.
Check On Your Neighbours
Even if you’re not in a bushfire zone, poor air quality still affects the elderly, disabled, and asthmatics, which means your neighbours may still be at risk. So it’s always a good idea t pop next door, drive up the street, knock on doors, and make sure that your neighbours are okay. They might need food, or some medicine, or even just a quick chat or a promise to check back again tomorrow.