Of all the times to give back to your communities, the most important is during a time of crisis.
Here's how you can.
to community recovery and relief efforts:
to animal rescue and recovery:
on behalf of others:
If you know a charity or organisation that needs extra support, or if your networks seem unsure who to donate to, you can encourage your networks to donate to a group of your choice by running your own fundraiser. Use an upcoming birthday, sporting event or special occasion to collect donations from others.
You can find an updated list of all causes and Crowdraisers listed on GiveNow here.
If you know any groups not listed above, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
An important in-kind donation that you can give at the moment is your blood. The Australian Red Cross Lifeblood provides information on how to become a blood/plasma donor. You can also book an appointment at your local donor center.
Wildlife hospitals and carers are in need of essential items. The Animal Rescue Craft Guild has information on what items they need, and instructions on how to donate them. When it comes to taking care of wildlife, the following from Wildlife Victoria can help guide your actions:
We don’t recommend feeding wildlife under normal circumstances, but if you live near a bushfire zone or wildlife corridor, turning your property into a sanctuary for wildlife refugees for a few weeks after the fire can make a lifesaving difference. If you're on the edge of a firezone, you can help by providing water and safe places to shelter for animals passing through your property.
Displaced animals that have lost their habitat in the fires will be on the move in greater numbers than usual in the weeks following the fire as they seek new homes and food sources. Please slow down and take extra care on the road when driving in areas where there have been recent bushfires. If you see an injured animal by the side of the road, please note its location and report it.
If you are close to an affected area and are in the position to be able to, you can offer up water, meals, shelter, etc to people who have had to leave their homes and may be either travelling or stranded without a base. AirBnb is providing information on available housing to individuals without somewhere to stay - register your spare room here.
Menstruation can be under-catered for in times of crisis so there are specific collections occurring for pads. Melbourne Period Project, Gippsland Women's Health are both collecting donations, but at this time we aren't aware of any organisations in NSW or QLD. If you become aware of any, please email email@example.com
The best way to give other items to affected communities is through Givit, a charity which coordinates donations on a community needs basis. It is important that you don't take items to communities yourselves, as you may be getting in the way of relief efforts, or end up endangering yourself or others. Cash donations to Givit or the charities listed above are preferable, as cash can help communities recover quickly, but if you find you're able to provide a specific good identified with Givit, we encourage you to do so.
At the moment, fire services and recovery teams will only take volunteers that have received the appropriate training. In the short-term, teams will be focusing their efforts on response and will not have time to train new recruits, so you will be unable to volunteer as a firefighter or recovery worker, but you can sign up for training as soon as your local teams open up availability. This will not be the last time Australia sees a difficult fire season, so a valuable long-term contribution you can make is to ensure you're ready for the next time we face these conditions.
Many organisations will be running drives now and into the future to help affected communities. Get in contact with a local charity that is doing relief work (a good place to start are those listed above), sign up to their newsletter so you can find out when these will be running.
Communities will be deeply affected by the fires. While those most affected are recovering, it's important to listen to their needs. Giving Voice can also be about making space available for others to speak so that they can be heard. It is particularly important to listen to children.
It's important to share good news stories as you come across them. There are generous acts being undertaken across the country. Give these stories time to rise to the top of social media feeds, and in conversations with others. By the same token, don't share information that will obviously distress or alarm others, and ensure any information you share publicly is verified. Spreading disinformation can cause unnecessary panic, and may put others in physical or emotional danger.
It is important to show thanks for the incredible work being done by so many people across the country. Those directly in the line of fire have taken on huge responsibilities, but operations workers, police and ambulance workers, news reporters and local service providers have all faced difficult conditions, not least of all local community members who have taken the extra steps to ensure others' safety. You can use your voice to ensure their efforts don't go unnoticed.
One significant way you can help communities recover is to take your next vacation in their local area. Many communities will have lost an entire summer's worth of income, and there will be costs involved in re-establishing themselves for next season. Go and connect with the land and communities that our responders have worked hard to protect, use their local services and buy their local goods.
If you are concerned that there is insufficient political action being taken by politicians in response to the fires and climate change, there is a protest occurring on January 10 which you can attend at multiple locations across Australia: