The Australia Bushfires: Six Ways You Can Help

The Australia Bushfires: Six Ways You Can Help

How can you help tackle the devastation caused by the
Australian bushfires? Support victims and contribute to the relief
effort from anywhere in the world with these six simple

the first lick of flames started to ripple through a
drought-dry Queensland in September, few anticipated the scale of
devastation they would cause. Months later, the economic damage of
the bushfires – which have (at time of writing) claimed more than
15 million acres of land, 24 lives and an estimated half billion
native animals – is expected to exceed $4.4bn, more than the cost
of the infamous Black Saturday fires of 2009, previously recognised
as the most devastating in Australian history.

“I don’t want your hope,” declared an impassioned Greta Thunberg
at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos. “I want you to behave
like our house is on fire.” Now, her words ring truer than ever.
While budding activists on the ground in Australia continue to
lobby MPs – many of them marching on the country’s main cities
later this week – we’ve drawn together a list of ways you can make
a difference, no matter where you are in the world.

1. Help firefighters and their families

Few could remain unmoved by the heart-wrenching image of
19-month-old Charlotte O’Dwyer tumbling about in her father, Andrew
O’Dwyer’s helmet amid the sobriety of his funeral in Sydney. While
various companies have offered subsidised phone, gas and
electricity bills to help alleviate loss of earnings to the
thousands of firefighters, communications personnel and aviation
crew called upon as emergency volunteers, the real impact of the
fires is unquantifiable as of yet. Make a contribution to one of
the brigades in New South Wales or to the families of those
firefighters killed on duty by visiting this
, where you’ll also find a live infographic tracking the
fire’s movements, or visit CFA Victoria’s site to donate
to its relief fund.

2. Contribute to relief funds for those on the ground

Help those whose lives have been upturned by the fires. The
charity with the most universal objectives is The Salvation Army which is not only providing
physical resources (housing, financial assistance) but emotional
support, too. Red Cross Australia has also set up 69
evacuation centres and recovery hubs to help affected communities
recover. Struggling to stump up spare change? Through the charity
GIVIT, you can donate bags of clothes or other
non-perishables to Australians who have lost their homes in the
fires. The process is simple. Browse the list of “items needed”,
bundle together your resources accordingly and send them on to a
distribution centre. You’ll have to cover postage and packaging
yourself, but you can rest assured that 100 per cent of your
contribution will reach those in need.

3. Give to wildlife charities

There are countless voiceless victims. A third of Kangaroo
Island, a lush speckle off the coast of Adelaide, named for its
formerly thriving nature reserves, has burned. It’s estimated that
25,000 of the country’s koalas have been killed in total, prompting
calls for their classification as an endangered species. WWF is aiming to rehabilitate
injured and displaced wildlife but also to help restore lost
habitats. Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, the
super-veterinary clinic led by Bindi Irwin (daughter of the late
“crocodile hunter” Steve) have similar plans to build enclosures
for repopulation programmes. A roster of other wildlife charities
such as the RSPCA New South Wales and Adelaide Koala Rescue are
working to rehome displaced and injured animals. Alternatively,
donate to Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, the super-veterinary
clinic led by Bindi Irwin (daughter of the late “crocodile hunter”
Steve) which plans to build enclosures for repopulation programmes.
Philanthropists with empty pockets but deft hands can crochet a
marsupial-sized protective pouch for the Animal Rescue Craft Guild or compile a care
package for WIRES Australian Wildlife Rescue

4. Schedule a trip (for later in the year)

The fire’s legacy will continue to ravage the country long after
the last embers have been extinguished, and Australia’s tourism
industry (which brought $44.6 billion worth of revenue last year)
will be left with inevitable scars. It might not sound like the
most appealing prospect, and air travel bears its own ethical
questions of course, but if there were ever a time to shirk the
guilt of flying long-haul, it’s now. Vote with your wallet by
booking flights to Sydney
to explore New South Wales, a region which typically draws upwards
of four million tourists per year, but has suffered the most. Visit
in September or October when the climate is more temperate and
recovery plans should be in full flow.

5. Stay informed

The volatile nature of the ongoing disaster means relief tactics
are ever-changing, so make sure you keep an eye on developments to
understand where your generosity is best placed, and remain wary of
sensationalist claims proliferating on social media.

6. Eat out in London

In response to the crisis, a panoply of London‘s
most discerning restaurants have decided to donate a portion of
their profits towards bushfire relief funds. On 26 January,

Lily Vanilli
, the capital’s favourite cake purveyor, is holding
a “SUPER” charity bake sale, while Ham in West Hampstead is serving
a specially designed, Aussie-inspired, three-course menu to raise
funds. Other hotspots like Padella, Pacific and Spring at Somerset
House are tacking on a supplementary optional donation to their
bills for the foreseeable future. To read a full list of
restaurants contributing to relief efforts, click here. Our trusted sources?
For a quick visual overview of the havoc wreaked, try Geoscience Australia and follow Australia’s regional
ABC outlets to monitor the ongoing
disaster as it unfolds.