Australia Bushfires: How to Donate to Communities, Firefighters, Wildlife


Millions of hectares of bushland, hundreds of homes and more than a dozen lives have been lost as intense bushfires rage across Australia. Whole towns have been wiped out. Families have been forced to flee into the sea and cities are clogged with smog. In Australia bushfires are common in summer. But not like this. This season is like nothing we have ever seen before.

Many of us feel powerless. But there is something you can do.

How can you help?

According to the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) the best way to help at the moment is to donate money.

“This allows people to buy the things they need, and it supports local businesses which have also been impacted.

“We know many people want to donate physical items such as food and clothing but these take up much needed community space.”

Once Australia’s bushfires emergency is over, you can help by donating your time and labour, or booking a holiday in the towns affected.  An incredible Instagram page has been set up to list businesses in the bushfire towns that will need your help once the emergency is over. It’s called Spend with Them and it’s worth checking out and popping a few things on your shopping list.

So how can you donate now?

We have listed organisations that are on the ground helping with the Australia bushfire relief efforts. Scroll down to see what they are doing and to find the links for you to donate.

Celeste Barber’s Australia bushfire relief fund

Comedian and actor Celeste Barber started a Facebook bushfire relief donation page on Friday January 3 with a target of $35,000. It has now has more than $40 million worth of donations.

Australia Bushfires Celeste Barber

Want to join me in supporting a good cause? I’m raising money for The Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service & Brigades Donations Fund and your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate a lot or a little. Anything helps. Thank you for your support.

Barber’s mother-in-law was evacuated from Eden on the NSW south coast. The comedian has shared regular updates from the NSW South Coast and she has been down to the area to deliver supplies.

The money raised from this fund will go to The Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service and Brigades Donations Fund. According to the NSW RFS’ annual report  “income or capital from the trust fund” is used “for the brigades in order to enable them or assist them to meet the costs of purchasing and maintaining firefighting equipment and facilities, providing training and resources and/or to otherwise meet the administrative expenses of the brigades”.

This is the single biggest collective donation of funds in the RFS’ history. Earlier in the week, it was believed this fund would be shared amongst the states, however, it must legally go to the NSW RFS as originally intended. Because, lawyers.

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The Australian Red Cross Disaster Recovery and Relief Fund

The Red Cross helps by staffing and stocking evacuation centres across all states and territories. They provide emergency assistance such as cash grants and mental health programs for people who have lost their homes in the fires.

The Red Cross also co-ordinates a register service called Register.Find.Reunite, which reunifies people who separated in the bushfire emergency. So far more than 30,000 people have registered for the service and the Red Cross has taken more than 5000 enquires.

Intrepid Travel today pledged to match any donations to this fund dollar-for-dollar.

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You can also help by donating blood. The need for blood donors is rising and the lives of one in three Australians depends on blood donations. Click here to see if you are eligible to donate blood.

The Salvation Army Disaster Appeal

The Salvation Army provides meals to first-line responders and evacuees across Australia. They are a welcome sight for tired firefighters, keeping them going as they work round the clock to keep communities safe.

Australia Bushfires Salvation Army
The Salvation Army food trucks. Photo: Salvation Army

“Our teams are providing meals to evacuees and frontline responders, and will continue to provide whatever support is needed as the situation develops,” Major Topher Holland, General Manager Strategic Emergency and Disaster Management says.

Your donation will fund these trucks, the staff to help out on the fire grounds

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St Vincent de Paul Society Bushfire Appeal

Vinnies is helping Australians as they deal with the immediate aftermath of fires, and they plan to stay and help families to rebuild their lives in the long term.

You donation will go towards providing food, food, clothing, essential items and grocery vouchers for people who have lost everything. It may be used to pay unexpected bills as people work through the recovery process and to help Vinnies staff co-ordinate crisis accommodation and specialised services for people in needs. 

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Mental Health Support (Magda Szubanski)

Magda Szubanski has teemed up with Will Connolly (aka “Eggboy”) to raise money to help bushfire victims long term with trauma and mental health support.

We feel that lots of money is going into short term help but we need to be there for these people for the long haul as well. It is going to be very hard for them in the coming weeks, months, years. We will co-ordinate with foundations and charities such as Beyond Blue to make sure this “care chest” goes to the best places, where it is most needed.  Let people know that long after the fires have burnt out, we will still be here to support those who have suffered. Thanks for making a difference.

This charity is a stark reminder that the Australia bushfire crisis will continue for many years to come.

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The NSW Rural Fire Service

You can donate directly to a NSW Rural Fire Service and your local Rural Fire Brigade to support the volunteer firefighters. This is what actor Russel Crowe chose to do after his local brigade fought to save Crowe’s house near Coffs Harbour on the NSW mid-north Coast.

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If you want to donate to a particular brigade, use the link below and check to see if your local RFS is listed. If they are, you can then donate directly into their bank account. If they aren’t on the page, contact them directly to obtain details.

You can also give your time and become a NSW RFS volunteer here. You will need training first – don’t expect to rush straight out to fight the fires.

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Support for Firefighter’s Families

The NSW RFS has also created dedicated bank accounts for the families of firefighters who have died while fighting the bushfires this summer.

Samuel McPaul, a member of Morven Rural Fire Brigade, was tragically killed while on duty at the Green Valley fireground east of Albury NSW.

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Firefighter Andrew O’Dwyer (36 years old) joined the Service in 2003, and was a member of the Horsley Park Rural Fire Brigade. Picture: NSW RFS

Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O’Dwyer were tragically killed while on duty at the Green Wattle Creek fireground, near Buxton in south western Sydney. Both left behind 19-month-old children.

Use the button below to find the details for these accounts.

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The Country Fire Authority (CFA) Victoria

Like the NSW RFS, you can donate either to a specific brigade or provide a general donation to firefighters in Victoria.

Donate to the Brigades Donations Fund (specifying the brigade you want the funds to go to) or alternatively to CFA generally via the CFA Public Fund which funds volunteer leadership and development training.

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The Victorian Bushfire Appeal

The Victorian Government has partnered with Bendigo Bank and The Salvation Army to establish the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. The money raised will go directly to communities in need.

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The SA Emergency Relief Fund

The South Australian Government set up a new bushfire relief fund to help people directly affected by the devastating Cudlee Creek bushfire.

Donations given to the fund will be distributed directly to the families and businesses who have lost their homes and livelihoods in the wake of the tragedy.

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Kangaroo Island South Australia Mayor’s Appeal

Kangaroo Island’s rare wildlife has been decimated by bushfire that started from a lightning strike. The people who live here have lost their homes, farms and stock. Kanagroo Island is home to the nation’s only chlamydia-free Koala population. Many of these of koalas have died and several more are injured. It’s also famous for honey – and dozens of hives now lay in ruins.

Kamagroo Island Australia Bushfires
Firefighters leave Kanagroo Island as the fire takes over. Photo: robdownunder / Flikr (Creative Commons)

You can help Kangaroo Island rebuild by donating to the mayor’s bushfire appeal fund. All the money donated will go directly to helping the community get back on their feet.

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Kangaroo Island Wildlife Fund

You can also donate to help the wildlife injured on Kanagroo Island.

The Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park has set up a Go Fund Me Page for donations. The Park has been caring for a large number of injured koalas, along with other native species heavily impacted by the bushfire. Donations to this fund will be used to help with veterinary costs, koala milk and supplements, extra holding/rehabilitation enclosures, as well as setting up a building to hold supplies to treat these animals.

We have been treating these victims as best we can to supply pain relief, antibiotics, treatment to wounds and basic husbandry requirements. We spent most of January 3rd building extra holding enclosures as well as defending the park from the immediate threat of the fire. We will continue to prepare more infrastructure to house the extra wildlife we expect to see over the coming weeks.

Kangaroo Island Australia Bushfires koala
One of the injured koalas brought to the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park. Photo: GoFundMe / Kanagroo Island Wildlife Park

A highly experienced, qualified and dedicated team of volunteers including qualified vets, vet nurses and wildlife carers are now at the Kanagroo Island Wildlife Park helping to rescue, rehabilitate and care for all of the animals coming in from the bushfires. Many are being treated for severe burns with most burns being to their hands, feet and rumps.

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The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

Our gorgeous koalas have come under serious threat from the bushfires. Colonies have been dispersed, animals have suffered burns and their food supply has been destroyed.

After the NSW North Coast fires, The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and National Parks and Wildlife Service crew leaders spent weeks searching for koalas in the Port Macquarie area.  So far, 31 koalas have been admitted to the hospital from bushfire ravaged land.

At the hospital, the koalas are rehydrated and then examined for burns which are treated with burns cream before they are bandaged.  The dressings are changed every three days.

Australia bushfires Koalas Port Macquarie
Koalas at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. Photo: PMKH

This GoFundMe page seeks funding for Koalas affected by the Australia bushfires. The original target was $35,0000 but it has now gone into the millions.

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WIRES Emergency Fund For Wildlife

NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) rescues and cares for animals.

In WIRES history we have never seen a concurrent series of emergencies events like those that began in November. Hundreds of fires over weeks have burnt over 4.9 million hectares of land in NSW alone. Many animals were already struggling with a lack of water and food due to the drought. With the fires destroying unprecedented amounts of habitat, food shortages have increased and lack of suitable habitat will be a significant long-term challenge for surviving wildlife.

It’s too early to know how many animals have died or what the impact on wild populations will be. In December, WIRES took 20,000 phone calls regarding injured animals, a 14 per cent increase on last year. Volunteers attended 3,300 rescues.

Australia Bushfires Wires

Your donation will help volunteer carers “inundated” with injured animals after the bushfires. It will also pay for their vet bills.

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Wildlife Victoria Bushfire Appeal

Wildlife Victoria was collecting goods, food, and hand crafted items for fire affected wildlife to pass on to shelters and carers all over Victoria. The charity has now reached capacity for what they can hold and are asking for financial donations.

Your money will be distributed to wildlife shelters and carers in Victoria to help rebuild enclosures and equipment  lost in the fires. It will help these shelters to cope with the enormous number of animals that will need care in the coming weeks and months.

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Unfortunately, there will always be people who take advantage of these situations. The funds listed above are all legitimate Australia bushfires relief funds. If you spot one that isn’t official, please take care and report it to authorities. The ACCC now has a hotline to report any bushfire scams.

Read more:

Opinion: Bushfire Crisis Gives Mum a Dose of Climate Change Reality

Hundreds of Schools Closed as Catastrophic Bushfire Conditions Hit NSW

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Alison Godfrey has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 20 years. She loves coffee, wine, skiing and spending time with her husband, two children and their dog. But she's still not sure about the cat. He's pretty cranky.

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