NOTE: If the news is too much for you right now, this is not the article for you. It’s alright to feel upset about the news from the fires, it is a devastating and emotional time right now, and your feelings are valid. If you need support, QUT Counselling is a free service that is here for you.
The fires ravaging Australia are unprecedented. As of the 6th of January, 23 people have died, 12.35 million acres of land have burned, 500 million animals have died, thousands of homes have been lost and the devastation is far from over. It is a somber time in our history. The smoke can be seen in New Zealand, some 2000km away from Australia’s east coast.
Bushfire Season began in August, much earlier than usual. There was chronic underfunding to Fire and Rescue and the RFS in NSW this year, making it harder to fight fires as they grew. Under the 2019-20 NSW State Budget, emergency services were cut, as viewable in the NSW budget paper. This was under the leadership of Gladys Berejiklian, who has been dubbed the ‘Koala Killer’ in recent weeks.
We’re sure we don’t need to tell you what Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been up to and the sentiment shared by people around the country regarding his actions.
As our politicians refuse to rise to the occasion, Australians have stepped in to fund the effort. Celeste Barber, Australian Comedian has raised $30 million dollars through a Facebook Fundraiser
If you’re a QUT Student and you or your family have been affected or displaced by these bushfires, please get in contact with the QUT Guild and the QUT Counselling Services. There is help available to you to get through this disaster, you are not alone.
As is natural to do, you’re probably thinking “How can I help? Brisbane isn’t on fire and I feel helpless – it seems like there’s not much I can do.” There’s plenty of amazing things you can do to help Australia cope and recover.
Follow reputable news sites and listen to ABC radio for updates across the region, state of the fires and emergency relief. Being informed is the first step to managing the situation and prevents fake news from circulating.
Get the word out – but fact check news that you share
Spread the word! Share fundraisers, talk about your feelings about the bushfires, share information to people who have been isolated by the fires. But PLEASE fact check anything before you share it. One GLASS editor saw an article shared by a friend reporting that rain fell over the Gippsland, Victoria Region, halting the fires. On closer inspection, the news article was from November. Misinformation can confuse the people who need the information most, so proceed with caution. This especially applied to news about funds and relief.
This is a list of registered, reputable charities providing fire relief who need help. Make sure to donate to places that provide you with a Tax Receipt, as a charity will always do this as a part of collecting donations. You can use this to claim a tax deduction on your income when you lodge your tax return. Do not feel pressured to donate money if you cannot afford it.
As more and more communities are injured due to fires, the national blood bank will be running low. There are plenty of places in Brisbane to donate blood, find them here.
Donate Goods to Organisations that need them
Charities gave been shocked by the generous outpour of clothes, non-perishable food, and blankets that have been donated to the victims of the 2019-20 bushfires. However, with so many donations, charities do not have the resources to house, process and distribute these goods.
If you’re wanting to donate clothes, consider selling them and then donating the money or visit GIVIT. GIVIT is an organisation that helps you find out exactly what a charity needs, and what they have too much of. Visit their site and see if there’s anything you have that victims of the fires need. Visit GIVIT here.
Support Communities after the fires are over
@spendwiththem is an Instagram account that advertises local businesses in fire-affected areas. For small-business owners, the fire has halted their incomes and jobs – leaving them with no way to make money. Supporting these small businesses help the families who run them and their communities recover.
With no signs of stopping anytime soon, we fear this fire season will be an unprecedented one in Australia’s history, which is a lot for anyone to digest and cope with. If you’re able to help by donation of money, blood, clothing or food cans please use the links above. And of course, your empathy and concern for those affected is one of the most powerful things in the world. Stay safe and keep being the fantastic group of caring people you are.