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6 January, 2020

Australia's bushfires and how you can help

Australia's bushfires and how you can help

By Phil Brandel

To date, Australia’s devastating bushfires have claimed over 6 million hectares of land and 23 people have been killed with that number set to rise over the coming days. On top of this it’s estimated over 500 million native animals have perished along with domestic pets and livestock.

It’s at times like these that Aussies are famous for digging deep and helping their fellow Australians. So much help has been flooding in the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has actually asked people to stop donating.

"I don't want to appear harsh in any way, but we don't need any more clothes, food, or trucks on our roads, we don't have the warehouse capacity, the people or the time to sort through," Mr Andrews told reporters on Sunday.

"We are very grateful ... but it's really important that those donations stop because they are diverting resources away from firefighting and providing support to those who are in real need."

He said "what we do need though and what those families need most is monetary donations.”

"That way money can be given to the families and they can make decisions that are much more flexible and local."

Mr Andrews pointed to the newly-established Victorian Bushfire Appeal, set up in partnership with Bendigo Bank and The Salvation Army, as a way to help communities.

NSW RFS also tweeted a similar request “Our South Coast team has been overwhelmed by generous donations from the community; however we've now reached capacity for donated food and goods”

There have also been reports of people fake collectors scamming donations on behalf of NSW firefighters.

So who do you give to? And how do you know where the money will go?

If you do want to help, below is a list of recognised charities and a description of where your donation will end up.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army offers a range of services including financial assistance, emotional wellbeing and support services and information, referrals and advice for those in need.

To donate to The Salvation Army Disaster Appeal, go to salvationarmy.org.au, call 13 SALVOS (13 72 58) or donate at any Woolworths checkout.

Give It

If you don't have much spare cash but do have useful household items to donate to those affected, GIVIT might be the place to go.

Give it asks people and charities what they need and then tries to match up donations with people in need. Go to www.giveit.org.au

The Rescue Collective

The Rescue Collective, in conjunction with Animal Rescue Freecycle and Support, is collecting donations on behalf of smaller rescues to help badly burned wildlife that have been impacted by the bushfires.

You can donate to the Rescue Collective here, or find a list of wanted items for donation with a list of drop-off locations here

WIRES

Australia's largest wildlife rescue organisation has launched an emergency fund to help rescue injured and displaced animals

Nearly half a billion animals have tragically died in the catastrophic fires, and many need ongoing medical care.

"It is impossible to estimate the number of native animals that have already been killed or how many more will be lost in the fires, or to predict the impact that this additional loss of habitat on top of the drought will have on wild populations," WIRES says.

You can donate to WIRES here.

Photo courtesy of WIRES

St Vincents

The St Vincent De Paul Society is also running a bushfire appeal, to help those affected rebuild their lives – with food, clothing, furniture, grocery vouchers and funds to pay bills.

The charity is currently running appeals for NSW, Queensland and South Australian bushfire and drought victims.

You can donate at any Vinnies store or head here.

Red Cross

The Australian Red Cross is supporting communities affected by fires in NSW, QLD and SA. The charity is calling for cash donations, and it has raised more than $8 million since New Year's Eve.

"We appreciate that everybody wants to help, but donating money is a more direct way to provide cash grants to people who have lost their homes," a spokesman said.

"Our specialist emergency volunteers are providing psychological first aid, working at evacuation centres and helping people to get in touch with their loved ones," Red Cross says.

You can donate to the Red Cross disaster relief and recovery appeal here.

Community Enterprise Foundation

This appeal is run by Bendigo Bank's charitable arm, and will initially focus on raising funds for communities in East Gippsland, north-east Victoria, south-east NSW and the Adelaide Hills.

Bendigo Bank has partnered with Emergency Management Victoria for this appeal, which has already raised more than $2 million. The Victorian government is also directing its donations here.

People are being asked to donate cash, as "monetary donations are quicker, more effective and logistically provide far more flexibility than donations of material items or pre-loved goods".

Donate here.

Firefighters

Victoria's Country Fire Authority and the NSW Rural Fire Service are running their own donations for those wanting to support the firefighters. They are accepting cash donations only.

Donate to the CFA here and to the RFS here.

Foodbank

Cash donations are preferable, but the organisation is also accepting good quality tinned food (with ring pull), UHT milk, and items that are easy to "grab and go" like muesli bars, cereals, biscuits and pantry staples.

Foodbank also accepts pet food and personal hygiene products.

Donate to Foodbank here.

The RSPCA

Over the past few days, RSPCA has also taken part in evacuations, gathering animals and taking them to safety. But once the active fire zones clear, that’s when the most challenging work begins.

The RSPCA Inspectors, working alongside Local Land Services, Department of Primary Industries and district veterinarians, will begin the difficult job of entering affected areas and assessing any injured animals.

Donate to The RSPCA here:


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