You can help bushfire victims right now, in a week and throughout the coming months. Here’s how.
It’s been a tough couple of months for Australia and it seems that things have gone from bad to horrific over the last few weeks. It’s certainly not been a happy new year for a lot of people who’ll be recovering from the devastation of the fires for a long time to come.
For those watching the tragedy unfold from the safety of their homes, the flood of information we’re receiving can be overwhelming and knowing the best way to help the situation can be challenging and confusing. But there are plenty of things to do to help, no matter what or how much you have to give.
You can harness your sadness and anger and channel it into making a difference. This is not going to be a short-term recovery. The effects of this disaster will continue for weeks, months and years to come. Here are some things you can do to help throughout the whole recovery process.
Things You Can Do Right Now
Cash is the most helpful form of donation right now. So give whatever you can, to one, two or all of these amazing organisations who are helping to protect lives, support communities, rebuild homes and towns and care for wildlife.
The immense generosity of Australian’s means that there’s been an oversupply of donated food and clothes and not enough people-power to help distribute it. In some cases, towns are receiving an abundance of supplies, and some families no longer have a home to store things in. For now, the most effective donation is cash.
Check in on your friends and family
Whether you’re in a fire zone or not, these fires are affecting us all in one way or another. Ask your friends how they are, ask how their family is, how their hearts and minds are. Be there for one another. It doesn’t take much. Send people a message and tell them you’ve been thinking of them. Invite them around for a beer or a cuppa. Just be with people who need someone by their side.
The duo you didn’t know you needed until now, Eggboy (aka Will Connolly) and Magda Szubanski have teamed up to start a gofundme page for those people who will be experiencing long term trauma from this disaster. Mental health support will be incredibly important in the coming weeks, months and years. This is a crucial form of support.
Help out our wildlife
Our wildlife is suffering and begging for our help. Give them some reprieve and put out some water for them to drink and cool off in. Read up about the best way to help specific types of animals. If you find injured wildlife (in NSW) call WIRES. If you own a cat, keep it inside and away from wildlife that has been pushed into suburban areas.
Keep up to date with what is happening
Don’t shy away from this disaster because you don’t want it to make you sad. It’s our responsibility to inform ourselves on what is happening in our own backyard. Be informed and make sure the information you’re consuming is correct. There’s plenty of misinformation out there.
People are going to be talking about this a lot from all kinds of angles. Having at least a general sense of what is going on, which areas are affected and an understanding of the scale of this disaster is important. For your safety if for nothing else.
The ABC have been doing a stellar job at keeping up to date with the sudden changes in specific fires as well as the crisis in general. Whether on TV, social media or radio, ABC is a reliable news source with the public’s best interests in mind.
In The Next Week
Turn up to a climate march
There are climate marches happening in major cities and towns this week. This is the perfect place to let out all of your sadness and anger and make your voice heard. Rallies are incredibly empowering and they prove just how many people care. Make time to show up to these rallies and take all of your friends.
Friday 10 Jan
5:30pm Town Hall
6pm State Library
5:30pm Garema Place
5pm King George Square
5pm Beehive Corner
5:30pm City Hall
5:30pm Little Malop St Mall
Saturday 11 Jan
4pm Arts Precinct
Wednesday 15 Jan
5pm Forest Place
If you don’t have much money handy, donate blood instead! There’s no better time to do it! Book an appointment or locate the nearest donation centre. You’re directly saving lives.
Send some letters
Write to your local federal member and express how you feel about the fires. Whether it be anger, sadness, frustration or hopelessness. Tell them they need to take climate action in your region and need to rally the government to take drastic and immediate action too.
While you’re at it write to your local fire station and thank them. Their tireless efforts have saved so many people’s lives and homes. They are our heroes and they need to know it.
Support local small businesses and those donating their profits
So many small businesses will be directly affected by these fires. Turia Pitt has started an Instagram page called Spend With Them, which features the products of businesses on the NSW South Coast and other affected areas, encouraging people to purchase products from the people affected to help them regain their livelihoods and keep their businesses going. What a champion!
In addition, hundreds of small and large businesses around Australia have pledged a portion, or even 100%, of the profits they make in the next week to various organisations helping the fire disaster. Support the businesses that want to do good. Buy a new t-shirt this week, shop locally, get your hair done, eat at a new restaurant. Seek out the businesses trying to make a difference and help them do it.
In The Next Month
Once burnt out areas become safe to return to, there’ll be a lot of damage to clean up and communities to rebuild. Spend a weekend or take a week off work to volunteer in fire-ravaged communities. Use whatever skills you have to help out. Whether it be rebuilding fences, cooking food, knitting joey pouches or simply chatting with people.
Some employers are even granting their staff additional leave to help out fire-ravaged communities. Speak to your employer to see if this is a possibility.
Blazeaid organises people who want to volunteer to help out communities by rebuilding fences and offering hope. They’ve got plenty of camps organised for multiple states in the next month. No experience needed. Get involved.
Reduce your water and electricity use
On Saturday January 4th, two transmission lines were lost in the Snowy Mountains region causing the state of NSW to lose 10% of its energy supply. An emergency request went out asking everyone in NSW to reduce any unnecessary power use. Let’s keep that mentality going. Our resources are limited and in a time of crisis, need to be able to be used in areas that need it most.
On that same night, a water tank in Cooma, containing 3.5 million litres of water collapsed and flooded the town. At a time when firefighters barely have enough water to fight these blazes, additional water loss is the last thing we need. Reducing your personal water use is more critical than ever.
There’ll be plenty more to do in the months on from the fires when it’s safe to visit these places again. But for now, let’s think one day at a time to get our communities back on their feet.