An unprecedented number of bushfires have been blazing in New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria since September, weaving a path of deadly destruction across Australia's western and southern regions. And although disasters of such an enormous scale can often leave people feeling lost or helpless on how they can assist, there are a number of ways to help Australian wildfire victims and wildlife who've been affected.
At least 17 people have been reportedly been killed as a result of bushfires in Australia, according to CNN. But it isn't just humans grappling with the fires' effects. Ecologists at the University of Sydney have estimated that nearly half a billion animals are likely to have been killed in the fires, according to HuffPost. What's more, The Guardian reports that more than 5 million hectares of land has been destroyed across the country.
Although this fire season has seen fires break out in every Australian state, New South Wales remains the state hit hardest by the brushfires. With high winds and hot and dry temperatures expected over the weekend, CNN reported that authorities in New South Wales declared a state of emergency Thursday — the third declared in New South Wales since November — as the state's Rural Fire Service prepared for fires in the region to worsen. To further help those impacted, Australia's Defence Force has been deployed to deliver supplies and assist residents living in isolated communities nationwide evacuate to safer areas, according to The Guardian.
Here are a number of ways you can help Australian wildfire victims and wildlife:
Open Your Wallet & Give
For months, both the Australian Red Cross and the Salvation Army have been working to aid those impacted by the fires burning across Australia. Among the organizations' relief and recovery work are efforts to support impacted families at evacuation centers. While neither organization is currently accepting donations of material goods, monetary donations can be a great way to help. Donations to Australia's Salvation Army can be made through its website. Those looking to donate to the Australian Red Cross can do so on its website. The organization also provides assistance to those looking to host a fundraiser for the Australian Red Cross.
Those looking to aide wildfire victims in Australia might also consider making a donation to the New South Wales (NSW) State Emergency Service. The community-based non-profit organization is the state's lead agency when it comes to providing emergency services during natural and man-made disasters.
Other organization working to aide bushfire victims in Australia include The St. Vincent de Paul Society, which launched a Bushfire Appeal Campaign specifically to help provide impacted families with food, clothing, bedding, furniture, appliances, and other items necessary for household recovery. You can donate to that bushfire relief fund through the St. Vincent de Paul Society's website.
Support Those Working To Fight The Fires
With more than 2,000 brigades and nearly 72,500 volunteers, The New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service is the world's largest volunteer fire service. They provide fire and emergency services to roughly 95% of New South Wales, where many of Australia's wildfires have been burning. You can donate either directly to one of the organization's local brigades or to the NSW Rural Fire Service as a whole through its online donations page.
The NSW Rural Fire Service has also made it possible to donate directly to the families of volunteer firefighters who died while battling blazes this fire season.
Fund Wildlife Rescue & Care Work
While the full impact of the fires' damage to Australia's wildlife remains unknown, the good news is there are a variety of organizations working to rescue and care for the various animals affected by the fires. For example, you can make a one-time or recurring donation to the NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES). The charity organization has been entering fire grounds (once given the OK by local authorities) to rescue injured wildlife since the bushfires first began. You can donate to help fund WIRES' continued rescue efforts through its website.
In New South Wales, a licensed Wildlife Rehabilitation Facility known as the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital has been treating and rehabilitating burned koalas rescued from fire zones. Donations can be made either directly to the hospital or to a Go Fund Me campaign they launched to build and deploy a hundred wildlife drinking stations to fire affected regions. Additional funds from the campaign are also expected to be used to establish a wild koala breeding program and build a special habitat facility to house any rescued koalas.
Other reputable organizations that are working to help affected wildlife and would benefit from charitable donations are Koala Rescue Queensland and the RSPCA Queensland, which was reportedly caring for more than a dozen koalas at its wildlife hospitals as of the end of November.
Buy This Band's Latest Single
Looking for a more creative way of aiding Australian wildfire victims? Brisbane punk band The Black Catapult is donating 100% of the proceeds that sales of its latest single generate to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery fund. You can purchase the band's cover of Hunters & Collectors' 1989 hit When The River Runs Dry for just 2 Australian dollars via their Bandcamp page.
No Money? No Problem
Families wanting to contribute donations but feel limited due to their budget might consider taking inspiration from the residents and staff at Peninsula Villages. Folks at the Australian retirement community reportedly raised $1,000 for the Australian Red Cross by collecting cans for money. Or, take inspiration from the students at Sydney's Earlwood Montessori Academy. According to the Australian Red Cross, students at the school who ranged in age from one to six years old raised $3,000 for the organization's wildfire efforts by auctioning off their artwork.