While the 2019/2020 Australian bushfires are still out of control, it’s estimated they have so far burned more than 6 million hectares (60,000 square kilometers or 14.8 million acres). To put this into perspective, Denmark has a land size of roughly 43,094 square kilometers, and the tragic Amazon fires in 2019 burned an estimated 900,000 hectares.
In addition to this, the fires have destroyed more than 1,300 homes in New South Wales alone, with the death toll sitting at 22 at the time of writing this article. This number does not include the more than 480 million animals impacted by the fires, as estimated by Professor Chris Dickman at The University of Sydney.
It’s absolutely gut wrenching. If you’re like most people right now, you want to help, but may be lost for ways you can help Australian bushfire victims and firefighters battling the blazes. This guide will give you multiple ways to get involved, as well as places to donate.
Feature image: Kerin Gedge on Unsplash.
15 Places You Can Donate Money to Australian Bushfires
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has advised the best way for people to help Australian bushfire victims and firefighters while the bushfires are still burning is through monetary donations.
Australians have donated so much food, clothing and other essentials, most warehouses for storing goods are now full. Plus, physical item donations take away people needed on the ground for organising other crucial support elements.
The Red Cross reports they have helped more than 18,600 people through 30 emergencies since July 2019 alone. Donations to their Disaster Recovery & Relief cause helps them and their more than 1,590 volunteers:
- Assist communities in preparing for natural disasters, such as floods, bushfires and weather events.
- Provide emergency assistance, such as cash grants to people who have lost their homes.
- Support those sheltering at evacuation centres.
- Cover essential expenses, such as transport, office space, finance, IT systems, volunteer needs, etc.
- Continue with long-term recovery programs for affected areas.
- Provide psychological first aid in the immediate aftermath of emergencies to help reduce initial shock and distress, as well as with long-term coping mechanisms.
Donations to the Salvation Army Disaster Appeal help fund the Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES). The SAES teams provide support at evacuation centres in a number of ways, including serving meals to evacuees and fire service personnel.
With more than 200 bushfires burning throughout Australia, the demand for the SAES teams is extremely high. As well as being stationed in multiple areas, there are also a number of teams on standby to be activated as they’re required in other communities.
St Vincent de Paul Society is helping communities affected by the Australian bushfires through:
- Supplying food, clothing, essential items and grocery vouchers to Australian bushfire victims.
- Paying unexpected bills for people affected by the fires as they go through recovery.
- Assisting with referring affected people to the right organisations who can help with crisis accommodation and other specialised services.
- Providing emotional and practical support to those who have experienced loss.
Donating to the NSW Rural Fire Service or your local fire Rural Fire Brigade helps support those on the frontline battling the Australian bushfires. As there are some unkind people running fraudulent fundraising, it’s best to donate straight to the causes, either by their donation page or at one of their community events to raise funds.
Firefighters from around Australia are travelling to where they are needed, even outside of their own state. The Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland Inc. allows you to donate either directly to their fund, so can they distribute funds where needed, or directly to a brigade.
In addition to direct donations to the RFBAQ or a specific brigade, their website also gives you the option to enter into a raffle. The current RFBAQ raffle (closing on 14 April 2020) enters you with a chance to win your choice of a Toyota LandCruiser Wagon GX or a Toyota LandCruiser Dual Cab GXL, as well as one of fifteen consolation prizes.
Where the funds raised from the Victorian Bushfire Appeal are to be distributed is yet to be announced. However, the Victorian Government has advised, “Funds raised will be used in a range of locally identified charitable areas to provide practical relief and recovery in the fire-affected areas.”
Donations to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal can be made online via the Community Enterprise Foundation or at any Bendigo Bank around the country. International donations can also be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The CFS Foundation was created to support volunteer firefighters in South Australia. Currently, there are more than 14,000 volunteer firefighters throughout the state, who provide support to more than 434 communities.
Fires on Kangaroo Island have resulted in the loss of 2 human lives (at the time of writing), around a quarter of the island’s beehives, tourist attractions, farms and countless animal lives. Firefighters have been fighting the blaze since before Christmas and continue to do so.
The State Emergency Relief Fund is run by a non-government, independent committee who see all funds raised are distributed to where they are needed most. Monetary donations are being requested to ensure those receiving funds can allocate the money to exactly what they need, and to help rebuild the communities affected.
The NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc. (WIRES) is the largest wildlife rescue organisation in the country. During spring and summer months, WIRES can receive up to 1,000 rescue requests a day, with this escalating during the Australian bushfires.
WIRES relies on their more than 2,500 volunteers to rescue, rehabilitate and release wildlife, all of who are thoroughly trained in rescue, immediate care, policies, licensing, animal identification and device use. Donations help to ensure they can continue their work.
Carers, workers and volunteers at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital are dedicated to the preservation, rescue and treatment of koalas in the wild. They established their Australian bushfire fundraiser to help distribute automatic drinking stations in burnt areas to help the survival of wildlife.
Thanks to the generous donations, the hospital has also been able to expand this fundraising to help cover expenses for a vehicle and trailers to tow water tanks and drinking stations to other needed locations. Funds are also being distributed to their Wild Koala Breeding Program to help regenerate numbers with the death of so many of this precious marsupial.
You can also donate directly to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital Australian Bushfire Appeal on GoFundMe.
12. RSPCA Australia
Most people know the RSPCA for their regulation and enforcement of animal regulations in Australia, as well as taking in and rehoming unwanted or neglected pets. However, RSPCA staff also help see to the care of injured wildlife.
In the 2017–2018 financial year, the RSPCA received a total of 132,657 animals, including dogs, cats and wildlife. During recent months, many people are turning to their care for wildlife displaced by the fires. Donations to the RSPCA can help ensure they have enough funds to care for every animal they receive.
At the time of writing this article, Australian comedian Celeste Barber had raised $41,137,809 through her bushfire fundraising on Facebook. Celeste has dedicated all funds raised to the Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service & Brigades Donations Fund.
More than 3.7 million people have been invited by their friends, family and colleagues to donate, with more than 981,000 shares of the fundraising page.
Unfortunately, the lives of several firefighters have been lost while they are battling blazes across our country. The NSW Rural Fire Service have created dedicated bank accounts for people to donate funds to, which will go to the families of the volunteer firefighters lost this fire season.
There are currently two separate accounts; one for Firefighter Samuel McPaul and one for Firefighters Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O’Dwyer. May they rest in peace.
On Saturday, 18 January 2020, the fitness community is coming together to host a fundraising bootcamp. Tickets to attend are $25 each and can be purchased via Eventbrite. Every single cent raised by tickets and donations on the day via the market will go directly to Kangaroo Island.
The location of the bootcamp was still pending at the time of writing this article, so please check the Facebook event for more information.
5 Other Ways to Help Australian Bushfire Victims
1. Sew animal pouches, pouch liners, nests, mittens and other items.
Animal rescue organisations, wildlife hospitals and veterinary surgeries taking in displaced or injured wildlife are in desperate need of supplies to care for the animals in their care. There are great patterns for wildlife pouches, mittens and more by Shelley Hong on Sew Much More.
The Rescue Collective and Animal Rescue Craft Guild are collecting and distributing crafted items to the carers in need of them throughout Australia. A list of dropoff points can be found on the Animal Rescue Crafty Guild Facebook page. Your local animal carers may also put noticed out for items they need on their social media accounts, so you may wish to check there also.
Common items needed for wildlife care include:
- Pouches in varying sizes.
- Pouch liners.
- Mittens (for burnt paw pads).
- Bird nests.
- Bat wraps.
If you own an investment property or have a room to spare, there is an additional way you can help Australian bushfire victims who have lost their homes. Airbnb has created Open Homes, a way for hosts to provide a space for free for people going through a difficult time.
The program is also open for medical stays, refugee housing and disaster relief. All hosts come under the Host Guarantee, which ensures you’re reimbursed for any property damage (up to $1,000,000 USD) if it were to occur. You’ll also have 24/7 phone support.
3. Spend money in fire-affected towns once the risk is removed.
With constant reminders of the devastation occurring plastered across social media, media outlets and in almost every conversion, it’s hard to forget. But once the fires become under control and people start to rebuild their lives, we move on—but the communities don’t.
Once communities are starting to rebuild, it’s important for us all to support them. If you’re taking a weekend away, why not take a drive to one of the fire-affected towns? Stay, play and wine and dine in them. Boost their economy and give them the funds to grow to what they were once more.
Even when you’re shopping online, if you can support a local business over a larger international corporation, do it. It helps the business, which in turn helps the employees, AKA the people of the town.
4. Listen to communicates from officials.
Unfortunately, it appears the Australian bushfire crisis still has many months to face. It’s crucial you listen and adhere to any instructions given by any official, whether it be a government press statement or a firefighter in your area.
This includes ensuring you’re safe to travel when you plan to do so. By staying away from at-risk locations, you’re helping firefighters by allowing them to focus on what’s needed—not on what could of been an avoided rescue mission.
Other things to keep an ear out for is new ways you can help Australian bushfire victims and firefighters. For example, at the moment, it’s been advised many causes only require monetary donations with physical item donations being a hinderance. But, smaller local causes may still need collections and will post what they need.
5. Shop via businesses who are donating to Australian bushfire relief causes.
It can be easy to feel guilty for buying even the smallest thing when something like the bushfires is impacting our country on such a mass level. However, for those of us not in the line of fire, we still need to go to our jobs and live our day to day lives.
If you do need to buy something, see if there is a way you can support the bushfires at the same time. Many retailers and businesses are donating part or all of purchases for a specific time frame to bushfire appeals, which is a perfect way for you to get what you need and do your part too.