Here’s how you can support those affected by Australia’s devstating bushfires

Jan 07, 2020
Donations can be made to the firefighters in both NSW and Victoria. Source: Brett Hemmings/Getty Images

It’s not uncommon for Australia to battle bushfires but I can’t think of any situation that compares to the devastation of this fire season. Homes destroyed, millions of acres scorched, almost 3,000 firefighters endangering their lives, our beautiful native flora and fauna lost and worst of all, some people’s loved ones never coming home again.

More than 16 million acres have already been burned across our country. (To give readers outside Australia some perspective, that’s larger than Belgium and Haiti combined.)
Amid all of this horror, though, I’ve been overwhelmed by the love and care shown by the wonderful hosts and guests of our Starts at 60 Community and Travel Buddies Meet-ups.

Our events coordinator, Karen O’Brien-Hall, has received many requests to hold special events to fundraise, offers to collect supplies and knit animal coverings. It’s truly heart-warming and a reminder of how strong the community spirit can be. (Shellharbour host, Cathy, has even penned a moving poem, which we’ve posted on our website.)

As much as we’d love to say yes to all these kind requests, Starts at 60 is just not set up to receive and account for donations in either cash or kind. Instead, I ask that you think locally when it comes to offering assistance. For example:

  1. Check with your local Country or Rural Fire Service on what they need – one meet-up group is making cool neck bands for their local volunteers
  2. Check with a local plant or floral society when would be a good time provide cuttings to replace the gardens that have been lost. Perhaps you could plant some seeds that’ll be viable when people start to regrow their gardens
  3. Ask your local WIRES wildlife rescue organisation, or other wildlife rescue group, what they need – they may want something as simple as old towels or flannel sheets
  4. If you are able, donate money to one of the existing funds who have the capacity to receive, receipt and distribute funds to those in need. Don’t for a moment feel that $5 won’t help. If every person in Australia donated just $5 ,that’s a huge total
  5. Contribute your custom by buying from regional Australian businesses online now and, when the fire-stricken areas are accessible, by visiting and spending your money on goods and services from businesses that are recovering from the fires.

I’m sure you’ll have already seen the entreaties by some charities that you don’t donate clothing etc. as they have too few staff to sort a deluge of donations and no vehicles suitable to transport the items. The situation may be different where you live, though, so I’d encourage you to contact your local Salvos, Vinnies, Red Cross, Good Sams or similar to ask what they need and how they’d like to receive it.

And please don’t forget that Australia is still plagued by drought and that those farmers not fire-affected are still in desperate need of hay bales and water deliveries.

Of course, these are just a few ideas of what you can do to help. If you have others, please get in touch so that we might include them on our site or in a future newsletter. In the meantime, thank you for being such a wonderfully generous, compassionate community.

Sue's sassy!

She became a member of Starts at 60 and got access to amazing travel deals, free masterclasses, exclusive news and features and hot member discounts!

And she entered to win a $10K trip for four people to Norfolk Island in 2021. Join now, it’s free to become a member. Members get more.

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