If you’ve been living under a rock and have no idea what’s been happening in Australia, here it is in a nutshell: the country’s East Coast is literally burning down, with roughly a million hectares of land in the state of NSW already burnt (compared with just 280,000 hectares last year) and currently 55 fires burning in the state of QLD (at the time of writing).
[Editor’s note 6/1/2020: Since the time of publishing this post, the problem has escalated with bushfires now ravaging the entire country from east coast to west. A state of disaster has now been declared for the first time in Victoria, as deadly bushfires torch East Gippsland and Victoria’s northeast. The death toll has now risen to 23, with 1,700 properties lost (over 700 homes), and more than 6 million hectares burned, and experts predicting that over 500 million animals have died as a result of the fires.]
So far, three people have been confirmed dead and more missing, more than 150 homes have been destroyed, more than 350 koalas have lost their lives, and today a catastrophic fire warning has been issued for the Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter, Shoalhaven and Illawarra areas, some of Australia’s densely populated areas. Almost 600 schools will remain closed across NSW today.
With dry and gusty winds fuelling the danger (a change in wind direction can rapidly cause existing fires to broaden), firefighters, emergency and rescue personnel and volunteers working around the clock to help protect lives and properties, communities and families feeling anxious and worry, 24/7 news media reporting on this catastrophe, it’s understandable that people are feeling despair.
But don’t want to sit idly and watch the country go down in flames or offer affected loved ones/communities just ‘thoughts and prayers’? Here’s how you can help:
Make a donation
The NSW Rural Fire Service are at the frontlines and needs your financial donations. You can donate to the organisation via credit card or via direct deposit. Visit this page for details on how to make an online donation.
A NSW Rural Fire Service and Brigades GoFundMe page has also been created if you want to support these Australian heroes and their families.
You can also donate to help the bushfire relief in other states. Check out:
- CFA Victoria
- Queensland Rural Fire Service
- Tasmania Fire Service
- NT Fire and Rescue Service
- ACT Emergency Services Agency
- CFS Foundation
- Victorian Bushfire Appeal
- South Australia Bushfire Appeal
- Foodbank Australia
You can also donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery as these funds will help affected communities by providing aid, critical disaster response equipment, and other emergency necessities.
Donate to Salvation Army Emergency Services Appeal. The crew have been deployed to the NSW and QLD bushfire regions and are providing ongoing emergency care, food and shelter and provide essential items.
There are also several GoFundMe pages that have been set up to help communities destroyed by fires and support victims and firefighters. They are:
- Mid Coast Bushfire Relief,
- Willawarren and Bobin Residents,
- Wytaliba community, and
- Rainbow Flat and Hillville.
Help the wildlife
Donate to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital GoFundMe fundraising appeal to help the wildlife affected in that area.
Koalas in Care in Taree are also seeking donations as they continue to admit burnt koalas. Donations will be used for treatment and nursing koalas back to health. If you come across a burnt koala, you can drop it off at Taree Veterinary Hospital, 47 Chatham Avenue. Visit their Facebook page to learn more.
If you are a crafter, knitter, sewing person you can help by making wildlife pouches and other things, visit Animal Rescue Craft Guild Facebook page to learn more.
Help spread the climate message
Tweet, share, post about your climate concerns related to the bushfires on social media and tag Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #attnscottmorrison to help trend the discussions.
Put social media pressure on state and federal politicians and governments not to silence the discussion around the links between bushfires and climate change. NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian tried to deflect questions around climate change citing that now is not the time to talk about climate change. However they had not taken up Emergency Leaders for Climate Action requests to sit down and work out a plan to help protect Australia from unchartered extreme weather risks, and here we are.
Sign petitions such as this one by Change.org, launched by Maree Lowes, to have Prime Minister Scott Morrison meet with emergency experts to discuss firefighting resources, climate action and a national emergency summit. There’s also this petition urging the NSW Premier to provide adequate and practical respiratory protection for firefighters.
Donate to the Climate Council, Australia’s leading climate change communications organisation, providing expert advice to the Australian public and up-to-date science and climate solutions. The organisation relies on donations to continue critical research, campaigns and projects. Making a financial contribution is one of the best ways we can keep the issue of climate change front and centre in Australia.
Have any other suggestions? Feel free to leave a comment below!
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- How the G7 Can Save the Amazon Rainforest
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Feature image of koala rescue via Flickr.