Australian bushfires: How Singaporeans can donate and do their part to help
Thank you for giving
Australia is burning. I can smell the smoke from inside my home in Melbourne, where I'm currently based. Outside, it engulfs the city like a cloud, a reminder of what is happening in parts of New South Wales and Victoria. The devastation across Australia at the moment as a result of raging bushfires is horrifying. At present, more than 12 million acres of land (that's half of England and twice the size of Belgium) and 2,000 homes have been destroyed, at least 24 people have died, and nearly half a billion animals have lost their lives to the flames. To put it into perspective, Australia's fires have scorched more than twice as much land as the Amazon's blazes last year, and has released more 350 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That's about one percent of the total global carbon emissions in 2019.
While the fires are affecting our friends Down Under, it doesn't mean we should sit back and shove it under the carpet as another issue apathetic Singaporeans couldn't care less about. For starters, climate change affects everyone. Like it or not, the fires in Australia will make climate change worse worldwide — this Earth is our home, and knows no boundaries.
Singapore ranks in the top six countries that visit Australia yearly, with Singaporeans spending an average of 15 nights in the likes of Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth. For years, we've enjoyed holidays Down Under for its pleasant weather, clear skies, scenic beaches, and vast wildlife. Fact: how many of us had pictures of ourselves as grinning kids clutching onto a cuddly koala (which have now been declared "functionally extinct")?
The fiery blaze doesn't look like it's about to stop anytime soon. Australia is only at the start of its hot and dry summer season, and it is the country's soaring temperatures, extended drought, and strong winds that set up optimum conditions for the bushfires. Climate change also promises a longer period of extreme weather, which in turn dries up the vegetation even more, and burns more readily when lightning hits the ground.
At this point, Australia's bushfires are leaving an impact not just on its country alone, but on the world. The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is working with their Australian counterparts to tackle the crisis, as firefighters and fire experts from USA and Canada respectively are joining the fight.
Below, we've rounded up a few ways you can help those affected by the Australian bushfires:
1. Australian Red Cross
The Australian Red Cross is raising money through its Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund. Their teams support those impacted by the bushfires, including providing psychosocial support, essential items like food and water, and setting up evacuation and recovery centres in New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, and Western Australia.
2. The Salvation Army Australia
The Salvation Army Australia offers a range of services and assistance measures to help people who have been impacted by disasters, including financial assistance, emotional support, and referrals. Their teams have been activated at multiple locations, with many on standby.
3. Victorian Bushfire Appeal
All proceeds from the Victorian Bushfire Appeal will aid members affected by the recent bushfires in East Gippsland and Hume, to provide relief and recovery by those who have lost their homes. It was established by the Victorian government, alongside Bendigo Bank and The Salvation Army.
4. CFA (Country Fire Authority) Victoria
If you wish to support the Victorian firefighters as they put out the flames and lend support to the communities they visit, CFA Victoria is the place to do so.
5. NSW Rural Fire Service
6. CFS Foundation
The CFS Foundation lends financial support to CFS volunteer firefighters who have suffered through death, injury, or loss of property while on duty.
7. Wildlife Victoria
Donations to their Victorian bushfire appeal will be distributed to wildlife shelters and carers to help rebuild enclosures and equipment that they have lost in the fires so that they can continue their lifesaving work. It will also support those struggling to cope with the large number of animals that will need care in the coming weeks and months.
WIRES, which stands for the Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service, is a non-profit organisation that trains a network of volunteer wildlife carers and rescuers that provide care for native animals in distress. They currently need urgent assistance to help with unprecedented emergencies, as it is impossible to estimate the number of native animals that have died or are severely injured.
9. Support the local communities affected by the bushfires
When the fires have stopped, plan a road trip with your friends and hit up the impacted towns. Fuel up at these towns, buy bread, milk, and candy at their shops, stay in their hotels, and set up camp on their grounds. They'll need long term support and your contribution will make a difference.