How Aussies can help as bushfires rage on


The current situation across both states is dire. A state of emergency has been declared in both states as almost 50 bushfires are burning in Queensland while about 60 are raging in NSW.

At least three people have died during the blazes with others reported missing and injured, while 150 homes have been destroyed.

But rural fire services and charities providing bushfire relief have said the generosity of Australians provides light amid the darkness, and there are a number of ways they can help.

Here’s what you can do:

FINANCIAL DONATIONS

Major charities have told News Corp that financial aid is the best way for Aussies to contribute to bushfire relief efforts.

The Salvation Army’s general community manager of fundraising, Andrew Hill, said the group has a $3 million appeal target.

Woolworths has already donated $500,000, while NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian chipped in $50,000 on behalf of the state government. And across the past 24 hours, everyday Australians have given at least $100,000 as well.

He said the Salvos were running 12 evacuation centres across Queensland and NSW and deployed 50 volunteers over the weekend.

“That scales up and down as needed,” Mr Hill said. “But we know that the situation in both states could get a lot worse.”

He said while kind-hearted individuals often left bushfire donations at Salvos stores, he advised against the act as it was difficult to distribute the goods.

“We ask for people to give cash. That means we can respond to people’s individual needs, such as providing them with gift cards,” he said.

Mr Hill added Australians could donate via the Salvation Army’s website, by phoning 13Salvos or in store at Woolworths.

Some have described the bushfires as “unprecedented”. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

CEO of St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, Jack de Groot also said financial donations were preferred.

“While we are thankful for donations of quality clothing and items, the best way to make an immediate impact is to give money. This enables us to direct your donation right away to those who need it,” Mr de Groot said.

Australians are invited to make donations via Vinnies NSW Bushfire Appeal online, at Vinnies shops or by calling 13 18 12.

Mr de Groot added the Appeal would assist all communities impacted by bushfires across the state.

A spokesperson from Vinnies QLD said financial donations for bushfire relief could be make via their Always There Appeal.

A number of GoFundMe pages have also been set up in NSW’s mid-coast area:

Mid Coast Bushfire Relief

• Willawarren and Bobin Residents

• Wytaliba

• Rainbow Flat

A fundraiser has also been established for the NSW Rural Fire Services (RFS) and Brigades via GoFundMe.

Donations can also be made online direct to the NSW RFS.

The Red Cross is also taking donations to help affected communities by providing aid and disaster response equipment including water filtration, shelter, hygiene and cooking kits.

You can donate by calling 1800 811 700 or making an donation online.

GOODS DONATIONS

The Queensland Government has partnered with GIVIT to manage donated funds and all other offers of items and services during the bushfires.

“GIVIT works directly with council, outreach teams, charities and community groups in impacted regions. These contacts help us identify exactly what is needed, and GIVIT coordinates donations to get affected people exactly what they need, when they need it most,” the organisation’s Queensland manager, Jo Beadle said.

GIVIT is also working with NSW services, and has a list of what items are needed across the states.

The fires have destroyed about 150 homes. Picture: AAP

The fires have destroyed about 150 homes. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

People in both states are also able to register items they would like to donate which enables local charities registered with GIVIT to see what is available.

Ms Beadle stressed that donated items must be of high quality.

It is also possible for Aussies to donate money, where 100 per cent of the funds will be used to purchase essential items.

Donors can leave a comment in the online donation process nominating their cash for a specific bushfire affected community, whether it be in QLD or NSW.

Rockhampton fire station officer Shane Tapp said Queenslanders could contact their local council, fire station or SES to see whether goods or financial donations were needed.

WHAT ABOUT THE ANIMALS?

Australia’s beloved wildlife has also been affected by the bushfires.

It emerged today that as many as 350 koalas were killed by blazes that tore through the Port Macquarie region.

Sixteen were rescued and taken to Port Macquarie’s Koala Hospital for treatment, with pictures showing burns to their bodies.

The Koala Hospital has blitzed their GoFundMe donation target of $25,000 and has so far generated $76,255. It says the money raised will be used to purchase and distribute automatic drinking fountains which will help the furry creature and other wildlife in their fight for survival.

Three male koalas recovering from their burns injuries. Picture: Koala Hospital, Port Macquarie

Three male koalas recovering from their burns injuries. Picture: Koala Hospital, Port MacquarieSource:Supplied

Wildcare are also calling for monetary and goods donations. The group has a wishlist of items with drop-off points across NSW and QLD.

Financial donations to Wildcare can be made here.

An RSPCA NSW spokesperson said injured animals could be reported to the RSPCA, Animal Welfare League, a police station near the animal’s location or a local wildlife organisation.

A spokesperson for RSPCA Queensland said anyone who finds an animal affected by the fire could call them for assistance.

The NSW spokesperson also offered several tips to keep pets safe.

1. Include your pets in your emergency plan for your household. You will need to decide when to activate your plan and whether this may involve relocating your pets. It is important to know that pets should not be abandoned unless it is impossible to safely evacuate them.

2. If you are home, shut your pets inside the house to limit harm from smoke inhalation and so they are close by to exit with you once the danger has passed.

3. If you must leave pets behind alone, leave them in a safe, secure room. Ideally this room would have no windows and must have adequate air, such as a big bathroom. Avoid rooms with hazards such as large windows, hanging plants or large picture frames.

SERVICES FOR AUSTRALIANS AFFECTED BY FIRES

The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance is available to those who have lost their homes to fires. Payments will provide $1000 for adults and $400 for children.

Fire victims can also contact Centrelink to receive 13 weeks compensation for loss of income.

Birth, marriage or change of name certificates destroyed in the fires will also be reissued at no costs. An application form for the issue of one will need to be sent into a disaster recovery centre.

Service NSW has said registration and licensing concessions and refunds will be offered to those who have lost their vehicle or relevant documentation to fires.

And the $40 tag security deposit/s on an RMS E-Toll tag will be waived if the device was damaged, lost, or destroyed by the fires.



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