Every day this summer we’ve been confronted with images of burnt out towns and villages, dead, injured and homeless Australians, horribly burned animals – and we all share a feeling of helplessness.
Australia’s bushfire stricken regions and communities are slowly begin to recover and rebuild in the coming months. There are many ways to assist the recovery effort and help support communities and wildlife still confronting the nation’s catastrophic summer fire season.
Local organisations, like the below, are at the forefront of the ongoing bushfire battle and recovery effort.
The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) is the world's largest volunteer fire service. Its members provide fire and emergency services to approximately 95 percent of NSW.
As the bushfires have devastated NSW, many people have reached out to lend a hand to people in bush fire affected areas, as well as RFS volunteers.
Donations made to the RFS allows people to buy the things they need, and supports local businesses which have also been impacted.
The CFA has over 59,000 volunteers, 1800 career firefighters, community educators and support personnel and 1220 brigades within its 20 districts and 8 regions across Victoria. It is playing a major role in the emergency response across the state.
With the Victorian Government declaring a State of Disaster and with conditions predicted to deteriorate, the CFA continues to work tirelessly on building containment lines for the 23 going fires that have burned over 1.2 million hectares across the state.
Recent weeks have seen an outpouring of generosity from the community who want to thank CFA’s volunteers and staff and support their firefighting efforts.
You can find out more about the organisation below.
Red Cross teams have provided emergency assistance, psychosocial first aid and practical support, as well as greeting people evacuated by air and sea, and helping families reconnect. They also carried out recovery assessments and in Victoria distributed food and water. Their teams were on ground in multiple locations across New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
Red Cross have also started a program of emergency grants to people who have lost their homes.
So far, donations to the organisation’s Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund have helped deploy 1285 trained staff and volunteers to disaster-affected communities across more than 69 evacuation and recovery centres where Red Cross emergency teams have been ready to welcome people who have fled from the fires.
The bushfires in and around Port Macquarie in November, devastated a genetically diverse koala population. As many as 350 koalas have perished with approximately 75% per cent of the fire footprint being prime koala habitat.
In the wake of the fires, Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, and National Parks and Wildlife Service crew leaders, have spent weeks searching for koalas following the devastating bush fires in the Port Macquarie area.
Initially, the hospital’s aim was to raise money to purchase and distribute automatic drinking stations which will be installed in the burnt areas to help in koala and wildlife survival. It will also purchase a water carrying vehicle with fire fighting capabilities to replenish the drinking stations with water as needed.
The hospital is now extending the project to establish a wild koala breeding program.
WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.) has been rescuing and caring for wildlife for over 30 years and is the largest wildlife rescue organisation in Australia.
They need urgent assistance to help rescue wildlife as it is impossible to estimate the number of native animals that have perished or how many more will be lost in the fires, or to predict the impact that dire food and water shortages, as well as habitat loss caused by the fires and drought, will have on wild populations.
In December alone WIRES 1300 line received over 20,000 calls and volunteers attended over 3,300 rescues.
Lead Image: Photograph by Jeremy Piper at Bilpin, NSW.