If You’re Feeling Helpless, Here’s 11 Ways You Can Help Those Affected By The Bushfires

As Australia burns, hundreds of people are losing their homes, thousands are being displaced, and devastatingly, at least 20 people have been killed, with dozens more missing.

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On top of that, it’s estimated half a billion animals have been killed in these fires, including 8,000 koalas.

Businesses have been devastated, streets have been wiped out, and the future is uncertain for large swathes of Australia. Worse still, we’re not out of the danger zone just yet.

For those of us left feeling helpless by the unfolding crises, here’s a few ways you can help.

Please note – many organisations, including rural fire services and the Australian Red Cross, are asking people to please donate money rather than food and goods, as they are unable to distribute them at the moment. However, if you are unable to donate, there are other, non-financial ways to help.

1. Donate to the RFS in NSW

Donations to the Rural Fire Service in NSW directly benefit the volunteer firefighters. You can donate directly at this link to your local brigade, or to the NSW Rural Fire Service as a whole.

RFS volunteers and NSW Fire and Rescue officers protect a home on Wheelbarrow Ridge Road being impacted by the Gospers Mountain fire near Colo Heights south west of Sydney, Tuesday, November 19, 2019. Photo: AAP.

2. Donate to the Country Fire Authority in Victoria

The CFA has two bank accounts: one for specific brigades, and one for the general fund. You can find both here.

3. Donate to the Rural Fire Brigades Association in Queensland

You can donate to the RFBA online here or by calling 1300 663 539, with funds going to “provide the services, tools and resources” the rural firefighters need.

4. Donate to the Country Fire Service in South Australia

You can donate to the CFS online here, and unlike some other states, there is no $10 minimum. The CFS also accepts bequests, if you were thinking long term.

5. Donate to the Red Cross

The Australian Red Cross is helping support those affected by bushfire, including by providing psychosocial support to people, supporting 21 relief centres across NSW, Victoria and South Australia, distributing food and water in Victoria, and greeting people evacuated by air and sea.

It is also registering nearly 15,000 people to be re-connected with families, through its Register. Find. Reunite service here.

More than $5.4 million has been raised for the Red Cross since New Year’s Eve, but every bit counts, and you can add yours here.

A supplied image obtained on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 showing a firefighting helicopter tackling a bushfire near Bairnsdale in Victoria?s East Gippsland region, Australia. Photo: AAP.

6. Donate to the Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is supporting people and communities affected by the fires, including through offering financial assistance, material assistance, housing support and mental health support. You can donate here.

7. Donate to WIRES

WIRES are busier than ever before: due to the drought and bushfire crisis, they received more 20,000 calls to WIRES in December 2019 alone, and attended more than 3,300 rescues.

To help them rescue injured, sick or orphaned wildlife, you can donate to their emergency fund here.

8. Leave out bowls of water for wildlife

Animals and birds escaping bushfire will be thirsty and may not have access to water, so leaving out bowls of water will assist. Try and put sticks or bowls on one side so smaller animals can escape if they fall in.

Other tips from WIRES include: draping something over the edge of your pool as well as putting bricks on pool steps so wildlife can climb out; keeping a cardboard box and towel in your car in case you come across injured wildlife; and if you do come across a burnt animal, wrap it loosely – ideally in 100% cotton fabric. Do not attempt to feed it, but put it in a ventilated box and either wait for a rescuer or transport it to the nearest vet.

9. Donate to FoodBank Victoria

FoodBank Victoria is providing food hampers, water and snacks to both firefighters and those stranded due to bushfire. You can donate either online here or by calling 03 9362 8388.

10. Register at findabed.info

Find A Bed is a service set up to directly assist those displaced by the bushfire crisis. Set up by Aussie women Erin Riley, it puts people in need of a bed in contact with those who have a spare one. Riley told PEDESTRIAN.TV they have 750 registered offering accommodation so far.

Due to the urgency in needing to get people into accommodation, Find A Bed warns it can’t screen people, but will connect people via phone prior to any accommodation decisions being made.

You can register online here or by calling 02 7202 6588.

It’s available in NSW, VIC and SA, and is not just for people who have lost their homes, but for anyone evacuated due to fire/smoke, stuck in traffic, or just really in need.

11. Check on your neighbours, particularly the elderly, disabled or otherwise impaired.

Now is the time to walk next door or drive down the road, knock on the door, and ask if your neighbours need any help. That might be food, a chat, or simply a promise to come back tomorrow and ask again. Poor air quality particularly affects the elderly and asthmatic, so even if you’re not in a bushfire zone, your neighbours may still be at risk.

12. Buy All Aussie Mystery Hour merch!

Look, obviously don’t do this if you’re not a fan of our true crime & mystery podcast, but one small way Pedestrian is trying to support those affected by bushfires by is donating all profits from the rest of our AAMH merch sales to First Nations people affected, via the Go Fund Me created by Neil Morris.

P.TV will continue to update this list, so if you know of further ways to donate or help out, please email us: editor@pedestriangroup.com.au.