Help comes in many forms, and any kind of assistance is greatly appreciated by the survivors of a natural disaster. Donating funds to help Australia recover from the wake of the catastrophic bushfires and record breaking heat may be the most obvious and fastest way to assist the country, but there are other ways you can lend a hand to bushfire evacuees, displaced wildlife, and destroyed infrastructure.
Read through this list and discover how you can help out:
1 Donate specific goods.
Through the GIVIT portal, people impacted by an emergency event can ask for items that they really need, where they need it, and when they need it. Individual and corporate donors are encouraged to pledge their offers with new or preloved quality items. When a request is matched through the database, GIVIT provides a secure way for the donor and charity to connect, allowing the organisation to communicate with the donor on how to best send the items.
The Australian Red Cross (ARC) accepts pre-owned clothes, accessories, books, and homeware from individuals or retailers at various Red Cross Shop locations managed by their volunteers. The money raised from selling these quality goods will help ARC’s disaster relief and recovery efforts.
Foodbank welcomes donations of non-perishable food and essential grocery items in every state and territory across Australia. Items in demand include breakfast cereals, UHT milk, grab-and-go food like muesli bars, pet food, tinned food with ring pulls, pasta, rice, and noodles. Farmers, manufacturers, and retailers can also give bulk donations of ingredients and items, or collaborate with Foodbank to produce sustainable key staple goods.
2 Shop consciously.
Give bushfire-devastated local communities a boost by purchasing their products. Finder.com.au shares a list of bushfire-affected local businesses worth checking out, while Instagram account Spend With Them promotes businesses from bushfire-stricken areas. Featuring a gamut of products from Australian fine wines to unique woodcrafts, every item on the latter’s feed is accompanied by the business’s backstory and how it was affected by the fires. Spend With Them co-founder Turia Pitt urged people to shop locally by saying, “Spend your money with the people and the communities who really, truly need it. They need you. We need you.”
Through Instagram, Hearts on Fire auctions off incredible fashion, food, travel, and art-related experiences such as a private chopper ride with photographer Eugene Tan and a trip for two to London Fashion Week. All proceeds will be given to various charities and organisations working for bushfire relief.
3 Share your skills.
You may not have money to donate at the moment, but practical skills (such as administrative work, construction, cooking, electrical, earthworks, logistics, marketing, and plumbing) are just as valuable. The World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF)-Australia encourages individuals to sign up and offer their support by volunteering general or specific skills, and/or sharing their expertise to affected communities.
Meanwhile, GIVIT urges people to donate a service for free or for a nominal fee to help communities in Western Australia and Queensland. Different skills are needed in rebuilding a community, and once your services match a group’s request, you’ll be contacted by GIVIT or the local organisation in charge of the project.
4 Travel across Australia.
Originally published on Facebook, YouTuber Tegan Weber’s message has inspired thousands of people to go and travel within Australia. She wrote, “I want you to do just one simple thing. When these fires have stopped, and the towns impacted are safe and trying to regain some sense of ‘normal,’ I want you to plan a road trip. Go with empty eskies, empty cars, and low fuel. Go, spend your money, stay in their hotels, buy from their shops, camp at their camp grounds, buy their gifts, buy their fuel, buy bread and milk. Beyond rebuilding, they need continued and long-term support to get back on their feet and your empty esky makes more of a difference than you could ever imagine. #gowithemptyeskys”
5 Watch a live show.
Listen to music for a cause! No matter which musical genre you enjoy bobbing your head along to, you’ll find a multitude of acts coming together to raise money for national bushfire relief. Buy tickets to watch Michael Bublé and 5 Seconds of Summer perform at Fire Fight Australia in New South Wales, or catch Angus and Julia Stone Briggs and Gang of Youths at Down to Earth in Melbourne.
Even comedians such as Arj Barker, Urzila Carlson, and many more have banded together for Comedy Steps Up for Bushfire Relief, waiving their fees and commissions to help raise funds for fire-affected communities.
6 Help clear debris and/or build fences.
The Victorian Government is working hand in hand with construction company Grocon to help clean up their state. Local contractors and other interested parties are invited to register their details, so that they can help safely demolish, remove, and dispose of residential and commercial buildings irreparably damaged by the bushfires.
Meanwhile, BlazeAid has helped rebuild fences and restore the spirits of disaster survivors in various rural communities since 2009. No matter what background or gender, people (as young as 12 years old) are invited to become BlazeAid camp volunteers. The job includes working side-by-side with landowners to help clear debris, replace damaged fences, run through wires in new fences, and hold posts in place.
7 Make items for bushfire survivors.
Use your crafty skills to help young animals and children. WIRES urges volunteers to knit pure wool pouches and sew cotton or flannelette linings needed to keep rescued wombats, wallabies, kangaroos, bandicoots, gliders, and possums warm and comfortable.
Last January, the Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild (ARCCG) and other similar groups have announced that they have received more than enough joey pouches, hanging pouches, bat wraps, nests, and koala mittens from local and international crafters. However, ARCCG still welcomes crochet or knitted toys, animal beds, cat toys, dog coats, and blankets, which can all be used for bushfire displaced animals and local pounds. Interested parties can make these items following their guides.
As for The Australian Red Cross, their Trauma Teddy project accepts hand knitted teddy bears which are distributed to provide comfort to sick, distressed, or traumatised children.
8 Plant seedlings and support tree-planting projects.
Returning the land to its former state will take time, ongoing support, and the collective effort of the community. With a goal to raise half a million seedlings per year, South Australia’s Trees for Life is looking for volunteers keen on growing native seedlings in their backyards during the summer season. Supplies, training, and support are all provided by Trees for Life to help grow healthy native seedlings, which are then handed over to landowners and community revegetation projects for planting.
The Organic & Regenerative Investment Co-operative (ORICoop) offers support to organic farmers and producers affected by the bushfires. Providing assistance in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, volunteers can lend a hand in farm support (fencing, soil preparation), infrastructure construction, tree planting activities, marketing initiatives, and more.
Towards Two Billion Trees is WWF’s ambitious 10-year plan that’s designed to stop excessive tree-clearing, protect Australia’s existing trees and forests, and restore the native habitat. You can make a donation to ensure that 780 million trees are saved and 1.56 billion new ones are planted by the year 2030.
9 Offer a place to stay.
Find A Bed matches generous people who have spare beds and rooms with bushfire evacuees looking for temporary places to dwell in. The database finds the closest match so that bushfire-affected humans and/or animals (cats, dogs, horses, and farm animals) can gain short-term or long-term respite they so badly need. You can offer your home here.
10 Continue to raise awareness.
Be the voice of bushfire relief efforts on social media. As it will take months or even years for Australia to fully recover from this devastating disaster, you can continue to share updates on the country’s urgent and long-term needs. Post articles on your social media accounts and share news articles from credible sources and trustworthy news outlets.
You can also reach out to local organisations and community groups to find out how you can help. No matter how insignificant your act of help may seem, the assistance you give can ignite a spark that reaches out to hundreds or even thousands more.