How to help Australian firefighters, survivors and animals affected by deadly brush fires

Options include more than just donating funds

Australia’s raging fires have killed at 25 people, destroyed thousands of homes and killed or displaced nearly 500 million animals since September 2019. The destruction is expected to continue as forecasters say the fires could burn for months.

Amidst the destruction, people and animals have been evacuated and are in need of temporary placement. After the fires, thousands of Australians will have to rebuild their homes.

[Continue reading below for links to help]

The Australian government has pledged to help fund relief efforts, dedicating an additional $1.4 billion to help rebuild infrastructure, however, it’s difficult to put a price tag on the nation’s recovery.

Here’s how you can help amidst Australia’s brush fire crisis:

Supporting Firefighters

You can donate to the firefighters who are at the frontlines, battling flames and working to contain the brush fires. A majority of Australia’s firefighters are unpaid volunteers. They’ve given up their holidays to try to keep families safe -- and have not received compensation.

You can donate to the Country Fire Authority in Victoria and the NSW Rural Fire Service in New South Wales. You can even contribute to local fire fighting brigades through the NSW Rural Fire Service.

Bid for books

If you’ve been keeping up with Australia’s fires via Twitter, you may have noticed #AuthorsForFireys. Authors on the social media platform are utilizing the hashtag to auction off books, writing services and other opportunities to help collect donations for relief efforts.

Twitter users can reply to an author’s tweets with their bids. The highest bidder for each post will have to donate directly to the CFA and provide proof of donation before getting the author’s item.

The auction started Monday and will wrap up Saturday, Jan. 11.

Aiding Wildlife

Australia is home to some of the world’s most unique wildlife, and the raging fires are threatening some of their species.

We’ve seen the sad photos of kangaroos hopping away from the flames and thirsty koalas begging for water, and they likely need the most help as their habitats continue to burn.

Caring for Koalas

Consider donating to Koalas in Care Inc. The nonprofit accepts donations and typically helps more than 60 koalas a year, but the bush fire has ramped up their rescue efforts to an unimaginable scale. Your donation could help koalas like Lucas seen in the video below. He’s currently recovering from his burns.

You can also adopt a koala. You may never meet the furry friend but with a small fee, you will personally contribute to its care and rehabilitation in exchange for updates and a certificate.

There are a few adopt-a-koala programs but one of the most well-known is the World Wildlife Fund’s $55 long-running program. The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is also offering a virtual adoption program and is currently trying to meet the high demands. They ask that the good Samaritans be patient and consider donating to the hospital in general as they work to rescue animals.

Help Australia’s iconic wildlife

Koalas aren’t the only ones who need help. Kangaroos, wallabies, kookaburras and cockatoos are facing an extinction crisis. Australia’s iconic species need help.

You can donate to the World Wildlife Fund of Australia to contribute to its emergency funds meant to care for the injured wildlife. When the fires finally clear, this money will help restore the forest habitats many of the animals have lost.

Open your home

Airbnb is offering free temporary housing in New South Wales south of Sydney and in Melbourne and its suburbs. If you live in Australia you can offer your home to those displaced. If you know someone who lives in the continent and country, encourage them to open their doors to those seeking refuge. You can send them items to help host people displaced during the fires or scour the site and message hosts with your offer to help.

There’s also Find A Bed, a resource that connects people needing a place to stay with those who have some room to spare. It also takes in animals. Those seeking refuge just need to fill out a form explaining the kind of accommodation needed and the site will look through available offers. You can offer to just house animals or multiple families. Due to the urgency of the crisis, the site says they can’t screen people but will connect you via phone, leaving the decision to accommodate someone up to you.

Beyond money

Besides monetary donations, people are in need of goods and toiletries.

Through Australia’s nonprofit GIVIT, you can scroll through a list of specific items charities have requested. Items highlighted in orange are for recipients affected by the bushfires.

Local fire chief's connection to Australia

The needs are varied as requests include clothing and grocery vouchers, chicken coops, dog food and refrigerators. You can pledge to give an item not on a list so if it is ever requested the need is automatically fulfilled.

To donate an item, submit a photo of the object and fill out your personal contact information. There is also an option to donate money. The organization will use the funds to help fulfill the hard-to-meet requests and match your donation.