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Thursday, 09 January 2020
Bushfires: what is happening, and how you can help

Australian Maritime Safety Authority via Reuters (© Australian Maritime Safety Authority via Reuters)© Australian Maritime Safety Authority via Reuters

A guide to the bushfire crisis

What is happening?
Since August 2019 Australia has been experiencing devastating and widespread bushfires across our nation. At the time of writing, 25 are confirmed dead, half a billion animals killed in NSW alone, and 8.4 million hectares of land has been burned.

How it is affecting Australians
In the state of New South Wales alone more than 500 homes have been destroyed. Residents of major cities such as Canberra are experiencing the worst air quality in the world. Our firefighters, many of them volunteers, are working around the clock and are exhausted. The human impact is immeasurable.

Why should you care?
Dozens of species of already endangered animals are being pushed to extinction. Australia is one of the world’s mega diverse countries, meaning most animal found in Australia are unique to our country. The bushfires are not only killing animals, they are destroying habitat, and creating starvation events.

Meanwhile, the economic impact alone has exceeded 4.4 billion dollars and is continuing to climb. Terry Rawnsley of SGS Economic and Planning, estimates the costs to fire affected regions from lost retail, agricultural, and tourism income could be as high as 1.9 billion dollars. Furthermore, the smoke choking major cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra contributes to reduced national economic output. This adds a further $500 million price tag on the bushfires.

Most people know Australia has a regular bush fire season. However, due to several factors, including climate change accelerated by human activity, fire seasons are starting earlier, finishing later, and becoming more intense. Fire seasons will continue to lengthen unless direct action is taken.

These fires are devastating and widespread and we are not yet halfway through the season.

What can you do to help?
Support for our communities have been overwhelming. A large number of charities are dedicating resources to supporting and rebuilding communities affected by the bushfires. Several organisations are working tirelessly to provide relief and aid. Here is a list of charities we have selected who we believe are dedicated to ensuring the long-term stability of Australian forest’s economic, social, and environmental sustainability:

World Wildlife Fund The WWF is working to save all species facing extinction in Australia.

Red Cross The Red Cross will provide continuous support during and after the bushfire season including long-term recovery programs.

Community Enterprise Foundation CEF has partnered with Bendigo Bank and the Salvation Army to directly aid Victorian communities in need.

New South Wales Rural Fire Service A vital emergency and community service under unprecedented strain.

Country Fire Authority Support the efforts of Victorian firefighters.

CFS Foundation Provides invaluable financial assistance to volunteer firefighters and their families in South Australia.

Queensland Rural Fire Service Providing invaluable support such as food, equipment, and shelter for Queensland fire affected communities.

Fire Relief Fund for First Nation Communities Led by community rights and empowerment advocate Neil Morris, a Yorta Yorta, this fundraiser is giving direct support to indigenous communities, providing temporary relocation costs, resettling expenses, and refurbishment of damaged property.

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