After another catastrophic day of bushfires in Australia, a sense of hopelessness echoes throughout the nation. At this point, firefighters are no longer trying to put out fires; instead, they are just trying to minimise the amount of damage they can cause.
In my last couple of posts on this topic, I have referred to the facts and figures. The daily drumbeat has inoculated us against the enormity of events and left us lost for appropriate responses. Therefore, today I want to look at people. How we can all contribute to this continuing crisis.
Just like any other leader in a time of tragedy, Scott Morrison has been heavily criticised. Some of this criticism has been granted, such as his ill-timed holiday to Hawaii. However, the same people that verbally attacked him when he left the nation, also attacked him when he went and visited fire-affected towns. Mr Morrison has not done much wrong, but he also hasn’t done much right. He has recently announced the increased involvement of the Australia Army in the crisis and is spending time talking with people who have been impacted by the fires. At the start of the bushfire season, it was a state matter. Now, it is a national crisis. The next few months will be monumental for Scott Morrison and for the sake of the Australian people, I hope he succeeds.
The only positive aspect of tragedy is that it often brings people together. This is precisely what Australia has witnessed over the past few days. Sporting stars across Australia and the world have joined together to raise awareness and money. Cricketers Chris Lynn and Glen Maxwell both announced that they would donate $250 for every six hit during the Big Bash League. Moreover, Australian tennis star, Nick Kyrgios, announced he would donate money for every ace that he hit during the ATP Cup.
Furthermore, comedian and online influence, Celeste Barber, has already raised more than $10 million in money for volunteer firefighters! Over 230,000 people donated to the cause with all the money going directly to the NSW Rural Fire Service. The post also gathered attention from international celebrities such as Pink who responded by pledging a donation of $500,000 to the crisis.
If you feel compelled to support the firefighters, communities and families impacted by the bushfires, there are many different options:
- The Red Cross is raising money through its Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund, with all money going directly to communities impacted (https://www.redcross.org.au/campaigns/disaster-relief-and-recovery-new-years-eve)
- The World Wildlife Fund is also raising money to help restore homes for the koalas when the fires have cleared (https://www.wwf.org.au/get-involved/bushfire-emergency#gs.pk3wty)
- You can also donate directly to the firefighters through the NSW Rural Fire Service charity (https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/volunteer/support-your-local-brigade)
- If giving money is not something which you can’t do, the Salvation Army and Red Cross are also accepting donations of clothes and other non-perishable items
In 2020, we must all be unified in demanding climate action. This must be our long-term response to these fires. Talk to your family, contact your local members of government, create discussions in your workplace and share helpful posts through your social media.
I am standing with my fellow Australians during this crisis, and I hope you do too.
There is hope.