Australia

Here's how you can help the victims of Australia's devastating bushfire crisis

Residents embrace after being told to evacuate Eden during the NSW bushfire crisis in early January, 2020. Source: SBS News

Australia is currently in the midst of one of the worst bushfire seasons in its history, with more than five million hectares across the country already burnt and at least 1,400 homes destroyed. Here's how you can help those affected.

As ferocious fires continue to burn across much of Australia, the resources of volunteer firefighting services are stretched to the max. Thousands of Australians have also lost their homes and incomes, with many left living in temporary accommodation. 

To help those on the frontline of the recovery effort, a donation can be made to the following organisations and charities.

Items

Queensland-government-backed Givit is coordinating donations of items across Australia.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has urged people to pledge money - not clothes or food - to his state's communities, saying they don't have the time, space or people to sort through items.

"I don't want to appear harsh in any way, but we don't need any more clothes, food, trucks on our roads," he said on Sunday.

"I know it all comes from a place of kindness and I thank everybody who's made those donations."

The CFA, Victoria's rural fire service, echoed that call: "Experience tells us that donation of money is much more effective and provides more flexibility than the donation of material items or pre-loved goods."

Accommodation

Offers of emergency accommodation for people displaced by the East Gippsland bushfires are being managed by the local council. Those able to help should email feedback@egipps.vic.gov.au, with details of location, bedrooms available, facilities and return contact details.

Elsewhere, writer and sports commentator Erin Riley says more than 5500 people have used Find A Bed to offer beds or homes to evacuees.

Money

Victorian Bushfire Appeal

The Victorian government has launched a fund to help Victorians affected by the devastating bushfires, contributing an initial $2 million.

Victoria’s recent fires have already destroyed more than a million hectares and hundreds of buildings, displacing thousands of people.

Smoke billows from a fire burning at East Gippsland, Victoria.
Smoke billows from a fire burning at East Gippsland, Victoria.
AAP

Bendigo Bank Community Enterprise Foundation and the Salvation Army are partners of the fund, which will help people rebuild their lives.

The funds will meet the most the "urgent needs of local families – covering the cost of everything from a grocery shop to replacing school uniforms".

Funds will also be used for "the rescue and rehabilitation of local wildlife".

State Fire Services

Donations can be made to the state-funded rural fire services. Some states allow pledges to individual brigades.

NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers Bob (left) and Greg Kneipp, a father and son, embrace after successfully defending a property in Torrington, near Glen Innes.
NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers Bob (left) and Greg Kneipp, a father and son, embrace after successfully defending a property in Torrington, near Glen Innes.
AAP

Fallen firefighters' families

The NSW RFS has established official funds for the young families of Samuel McPaul, Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O'Dwyer, who lost their lives battling fires this season.

Celeste Barber's donation page

More than half a million people from across the globe have pledged more than $30 million to the NSW RFS through the Australian comedian's Facebook fundraiser.

That amount is equivalent to two weeks of funding for what is the world's largest fire service.

Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund

Donations are being accepted through the general disaster relief fund, which goes to helping those affected by bushfires, heat, floods, cyclones and other emergencies.

More than $8 million has been raised since New Year's Eve.

More than 60 Red Cross volunteers including Margaret Kiehne and Jenny Sloman are offering assistance at 16 evacuation centres across New South Wales.
More than 60 Red Cross volunteers including Margaret Kiehne and Jenny Sloman are offering assistance at 16 evacuation centres across New South Wales.
Australian Red Cross

Salvation Army

The Salvos are providing meals to evacuees and first-responders. Donate here

Salvation Army teams are providing meals to evacuees and frontline responders.
Salvation Army teams are providing meals to evacuees and frontline responders.
The Salvation Army

St Vincent de Paul

Vinnies is helping with bills, clothing, bedding and food. The Queensland government chipped in $25,000 in September as part of a wider $100,000 donation. Donate here.

Wildlife

NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) say they received more than 20,000 calls in December alone, up 14 per cent. Donate here

Mogo Zoo and the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital have both set up GoFundMe pages, raising $50,000 and $3.1 million respectively.  Donate to Mogo Zoo Fire Recovery or Port Macquarie Koala Hospital on GoFundMe.com.

Food Bank Bushfire Appeal

Food Bank is the only Australian organisation to provide food relief in the wake of natural disasters. Donations will go towards providing essential supplies to support emergency workers and affected communities as they recover.

Financial donations can be made online here. To donate food or supplies contact supplychain@foodbank.org.au.

GoFundMe

Millions have been raised on the website, including the wildlife funds above, $138,000 for the Mallacoota Fires Support Fund and $110,000 in one fund for Cudgewa and surrounding Victorian towns.

But, given anyone can set up a page, fraud is a possibility - such as a funeral fund for young Cobargo father Patrick Salway.

That page was falsely established in his niece's name, raising $4000.

"She has not opened this page and is absolutely gutted ... that someone would be so f***ing low to do this to her and our family," Mr Salway's brother-in-law, Dean Hancock, said.

Additional reporting: AAP

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