It is difficult to watch what is happening in the bushfire affected areas around Australia and not feel overwhelmed. Whether you or people you know are personally affected or you are just watching it all from a distance, the tragedy and devastation hits us all.
No one wants to sit by and do nothing, but sometimes it’s hard to know just how to help. It’s also quite normal to feel a bit incapacitated by the events, and stunned into pretending it isn’t happening, or not be able to do anything at all.
There is no right or wrong way to respond to tragedy like what we are seeing. If you want to help, here are some ways you can take action.
It is important to note a few things, however:
The details in this blog were correct at the time of posting, but what each charity needs will change quite quickly – it is best to make sure that you contact each charity directly before donating items to make sure that things are still needed.
As of 7th January, most charities are asking for monetary donations instead of goods, as the already huge generosity of Australians has meant that some organisations have more goods than they can store or distribute.
Items like toys, furniture and clothes are not needed crucially at this time, so it is best not to donate these unless it is to a Red Cross store who can sell the items and raise money for the victims of the fires.
Do not go to fire-affected areas yourself to deliver items or try to help yourself – you may instead hamper the efforts of emergency workers. You may want to volunteer your time somehow but it is best to contact charities directly to see if you are needed and what you can do to help.
Items that are Needed
GIVIT is a wonderful central agency that has listed what is needed right now. You can check here to see an up to date list of what you can donate, or to donate money.
A number of different agencies are accepting monetary donations that will be distributed to people who need it, including:
You can also donate to a Facebook page called My Sisters Keeper – they are raising money to buy facemasks for Fireys.
Comedian Celeste Barber started a fundraiser initially for the NSW fire service and intended to try and raise $20k, at last check this fund was over $42 million and still going! You can donate to this fund here. (Incidentally, this money is now going to be distributed across a number of charities and affected States.)
Help for Animals
It is not only people that are affected by the disaster, but there are also countless numbers of injured wildlife, farm, and household animals as well who are affected. Charities who are helping look after animals need a number of items including milk replacement, feed and pellets, nesting boxes for housing injured animals and more.
Contact these charities directly to find out what is needed, or to make a monetary donation to help affected animals.
You can also convert any Flybuys points that you have accumulated to the Red Cross – you can do this by searching for ‘Red Cross’ under your rewards options instead of redeeming the points.
Blood donations are always needed, but even more so now than ever. You can contact your local blood bank here for information on who can donate blood and where to go.
A number of craft projects are needed urgently, so people who are handy with a sewing machine can spring into action. Ties to cool down firefighters can be made and sent here while pouches for injured wildlife are also needed, the details of these are here.
A fantastic way to help is to support small businesses within the affected communities, or by making a pledge to travel to affected communities and support their businesses once this is all over. This can be one of the best things to do to help these families and communities get established again.
You can help by visiting these Facebook pages to learn how to buy from small businesses
You can also follow the #gowithemptyeskies campaign through social media which is encouraging visitors to the small towns after it’s all over.
Volunteer for BlazeAid
Volunteer for BlazeAid, a volunteer-based organisation that works with families and individuals in rural Australia after natural disasters such as fires and floods. Working alongside the rural families, BlazeAid volunteers work in a disaster-affected area for many months, not only helping individuals and families, but also helping rebuild the local communities.
Sutherland Shire Businesses and Locally
These local businesses can be used as a drop off point for items including non-perishable food, bottles of water, disposable plates, bowls and cups, towels and sheets in good condition, and unused toiletries and personal items.
Club Engadine RSL (no longer taking donations)
Fergos Tackle World in Taren Point (no longer taking donations)
A group of like-minded, passionate locals have organised a fundraiser walk in Cronulla on Sunday 12th January to help raise money and spirits, for details see here.
This Facebook page lists the details of donation points in the Sutherland Shire for fire and also drought-affected areas.
For more recent information, you can also check our Facebook page here.