8 Ways You Can Help Australia During the Fires, Even From Across the World
The brushfires in Australia, especially in the state of New South Wales, are more horrific than you can imagine. At least 25 people have died as of January 6th, along with millions of animals, including many found nowhere else on Earth. An area larger than the state of West Virginia has been captured by flames, destroying thousands of homes. The Australian government has leaped into action, deploying the military, and firefighters from as far abroad as the United States and Canada are shipping out to help in any way they can. But record heat and lack of rain, along with an overloaded power grid due to energy-hungry air conditioners, make the situation dire. At least 25 percent of the koala population has already died; the koalas were already struggling even before this.
Given that Australia is more than 9,000 miles from us in North America, and most of us aren’t professional firefighters who are able to fly out there to help, it can feel as though there’s nothing we can do. But that’s not true, and there are plenty of organizations on the ground that need donations and supplies. Here are a few that need our help.
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An Australian-based non-for-profit organization, Givit allows people to register for the supplies and other items they need, and 100% of monetary donations go directly to addressing those specific requests. Givit thus avoids the problem of addressing the wrong issues; these requests include school supplies for a community school, fence posts for a family farm, batteries, grocery vouchers, and more.
2. Port Macquarie Koala Hospital
Specifically focused on koalas, the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital —the world’s first hospital dedicated to saving koalas—is using donations to set up drinking stations for surviving koalas, as water is scarce. They’re also expanding, setting up a wild koala breeding program, which will be vital in years to come if there’s any hope in establishing secure, stable populations of wild koalas. They’ve already saved hundreds, according to a CBC interview, and are continuing to push forward.
3. New South Wales Rural Fire Service
Tasked with fighting fires on the ground, the Fire Service asks specifically for money rather than bulky items, which may take up room that’s needed for those fleeing the fires. You can donate directly to these firefighters, to be used for community services and resources.
BlazeAid is a volunteer organization that repairs broken infrastructure, like fencing, after natural disasters. It’s a born-and-bred Australian organization, formed after the brutal fires of February 2009, and works throughout Australia, including in the fire-affected states of New South Wales and Victoria. They coordinate volunteers and send them where they’re needed most; previous campaigns after flooding and fires have involved as many as 3,500 volunteers at once.
5. County Fire Authority
Similar to the NSW Rural Fire Service, but in the state of Victoria, the County Fire Authority is accepting donations to be used to buy locally-specific material goods, accommodations for the displaced, and wildlife support.
The Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service, or WIRES for short, is a rehabilitation service for Australian animals. There are thousands of species of plants and animals in Australia that are found nowhere else, and they need protecting. If you want to donate to rescue lost or injured animals, this is the place to go.
7. Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal
The FRRR is a community assistance program for the huge swaths of Australia out of the orbit of the country’s major cities. They have a fund to create grants for individual community projects, which include preparedness programs, free food for kids in school, and medical improvements in far-flung areas.
8. Victorian Bushfire Appeal
This organization works with the Victorian government, a local bank, and the Salvation Army to provide rebuilding services in the wake of the fires. It comes recommended by Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria—a role similar to that of a state’s governor in the United States. Australia has only six states and ten territories, so the premier of a state is a powerful national figure (territories differ from states in the amount of self-governing power they have; in the US, a rough equivalent of an Australian territory would be Guam or Washington, D.C.).
These organizations are all working at full capacity to cope with the massive problems brought on by these historic fires. They need our help. It might not seem like much, but sending even $5 can make a huge difference for the people, animals, and communities of Australia.