Turia Pitt launches heartfelt campaign to help communities impacted by bushfires

Jan 08, 2020
Turia launched the Spend With Them campaign on Instagram to support fire-affected communities. Source: Getty.

She is one of Australia’s most inspiring bushfire survivors, having suffered extensive burns to her body after getting trapped by an out of control grass fire at the age of just 24, and now Turia Pitt has launched a new initiative aimed at supporting communities affected by the recent blazes.

The 32-year-old motivational speaker launched the ‘Spend With Them’ campaign on Instagram earlier this week and has already received a huge response from people willing to spend their money with local businesses who have been impacted by the ongoing bushfires.

Turia, along with pal Grace McBride, set up the social media campaign to “help rebuild towns and businesses affected by fire” and use the page to profile businesses operating in regional areas that have fallen victim to the country’s worst-ever bushfire season.

From swimwear companies to coffee roasters, local artists and even bars and restaurants, Turia and Grace have asked people to submit requests to be featured in a bid to shine a light on as many businesses as possible, encouraging people to spend their hard-earned money on their products or visit the regions once the fires have subsided.

Speaking about the initiative on her own Instagram page, the soon to be mother-of-two revealed she was inspired to set up the campaign by Tegan Webber’s #GoWithEmptyEskys campaign that called for people to visit affected regions, once it is safe to do so, and spend their money in a bid to help towns rebuild and recover.

Turia said: “Once these fires are finally ‘over’, it won’t be over for many of the local businesses in fire-ravaged towns. A lot of these places (like my home in Mollymook, and Mallacoota, Kangaroo Island, Eden etc) rely on the tourist dollar for their very survival.

“And so this is what I’m doing. I’ve created @spendwiththem, a place to feature businesses in fire-affected towns. So, if you want to buy something (now, or in the future), check out @spendwiththem and buy something from one of these places. Spend your money with the people and the communities who really, truly need it. They need you. We need you.

“This is a way to put money directly in the pockets of the people and communities who need it the most, and need it NOW. Long after the threat is over and the choppers stop flying overhead. Long after summer ends and the wail of sirens ceases in the streets. Help them rebuild. Make them feel heard. Spend with them.”

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Fires had been raging up and down the South Coast for close to a month. People were evacuated from Bawley Point and Tabourie Lake. Milton was hit. Michael did food and supply runs in his boat. We watched as the sky went red and black days before Christmas. More fires broke out on New Years Eve. I watched, my mouth agape, as two angry plumes from the fires north and south of us joined together over Mollymook Beach. And then, the power went out. Mobile reception became spotty. Internet was down. Rumours swirled around town like the ashes that rained down on us. Embers in our backyards. Homes had been lost. Whole streets obliterated. A girlfriend’s panicked text about her dad being trapped. I packed my go bag and filled the bath with water. Michael cooked bacon and eggs on the barbecue outside. Hakavai and I read books on the balcony. We watched as the fine grey smoke settled in on our beloved Mollymook Beach. At a quarter to eight, the evening was quiet. Not a peaceful and serene quiet, but an eerie quiet. An apocalyptic quiet. No one on their balconies drinking beers. No music blaring from our neighbours next door, or from the houses across the street. No revellers preparing to celebrate the new year. And it was dark. No power. No lights. First of all: I’m sorry that I haven’t been more proactive in this time. It’s been a tough few weeks for me emotionally. I’ve had to focus on not letting my emotions and own experiences get the better of me. I’ve tried to not let the panic genie out of the bottle (because once that genie’s out, you’ve got zero chance of squashing it back in). And, I’m exhausted. I feel like I’ve done 10 marathons. And we can’t relax because it’s only the start of summer, and it’s not over yet. So just like in a marathon, I’ve realised I have to pace myself. A lot of things have been tough. Being 8 months pregnant with a toddler, I’ve felt as useful as tits on a bull. I’ve had recurring nightmares about running through flames with my son in my arms. It’s been difficult to sleep, eat or think and all I’ve really wanted to do is tap out, put my head in the sand and pretend that nothing is going on. Continued in comments.

A post shared by Turia (@turiapitt) on

Turia also opened up on the emotional toll that the recent fires have had on her, revealing that they have brought back memories of her own experience in 2011. She wrote: “I’ve had to focus on not letting my emotions and own experiences get the better of me. I’ve tried to not let the panic genie out of the bottle (because once that genie’s out, you’ve got zero chance of squashing it back in). And, I’m exhausted. I feel like I’ve done 10 marathons. And we can’t relax because it’s only the start of summer, and it’s not over yet. So just like in a marathon, I’ve realised I have to pace myself.

“A lot of things have been tough. Being 8 months pregnant with a toddler, I’ve felt as useful as tits on a bull. I’ve had recurring nightmares about running through flames with my son in my arms. It’s been difficult to sleep, eat or think and all I’ve really wanted to do is tap out, put my head in the sand and pretend that nothing is going on.”

Turia suffered full thickness burns to 65 per cent of her body after finding herself trapped by a raging grass fire while completing an ultra marathon in Western Australia in 2011, when she was just 24 years old. Doctors didn’t think she would survive and she ended up spending six months in hospital, underwent numerous surgeries and took two years in recovery – which saw her wear full-body compression suits and masks.

To find out more about the campaign visit www.instagram.com/spendwiththem.

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Have you been affected by the recent bushfires? Do you think this is a good initiative?

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