4 initiatives that bonded Australians during the fires

Although Australia is in the midst of a climate disaster, the nation has certainly come together and supported victims, firefighters and the wildlife like never before. It’s easy to point fingers out of frustration but being part of an active solution is better than playing the blame game. Here are 4 amazing initiatives from social movements to charity fundraisers that helped those affected by the bushfires.

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

– Desmond Tutu.

Image credit: DFES Incident photographer Evan Collis
  1. Conscious consumerism to help rural businesses

Social media became a positive consumer space where you can directly help rural businesses who are struggling to keep their family afloat. #buyfromthebush is a social movement started by Grace Brennan on Instagram to encourage all Australians (and those overseas) to buy products made by rural businesses. You can purchase all sorts of tangible goods on @buyfromthebush from artworks, to fashion and beauty to homewares and utilitarian products. This movement has boosted many small businesses in South Australia, New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria. Some rural companies have reportedly made more in two weeks than they had in the last financial year with some actually doubling their annual income. 

  1. People throwing open their doors

With over 2000 homes lost to the fires, people have stepped in to help those displaced by the bushfire crisis. Holiday home owners in NSW have opened their doors to people with no place to stay as a temporary accomodation. Companies have also contributed. AirBnB’s Open Homes program in NSW and Victoria has provided free accomodation in select eligible listings from January 1-16 2020 to those impacted by the fires. Since November 2019, more than 350 hosts have volunteered their places for those in need of temporary accommodation – certainly a heartfelt gesture that highlights the compassion Australians have towards others during a national crisis.

  1. Fundraiser concerts

Fire Fight, Down To Earth and Fire Aid – 2020 saw an abundance of bushfire relief concerts raising money for victims of the fires. Homegrown artists such as Amy Shark, Peking Duk, Tash Sultana and many more have showed their support by playing at large scale and local benefit shows. Large fundraising concerts have popped up in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide with plenty of smaller gigs run by independent clubs, pubs and bars.

  1. Charities & Philanthropy

From WIRES to the NSW RFS to the Koala Hospital, Australians and the international community have been donating to key charities to help the bushfire relief. The 2019/2020 fires are so catastrophic that international celebrities are showing their support by donating millions (Leonardo DiCaprio – $3.4M, Elton John – $1M, Chris Hemsworth – $1M). Australian businessman Andrew Forrest donated a $70 million bushfire recovery package being the largest single donor. Social media again showed it’s philanthropic potential when comedian Celeste Barber’s Facebook fundraiser for the NSW RFS amassed over $50 million Australian dollars, being the largest fundraiser in the history of the platform.

Mural of Celeste Barber in Melbourne’s Hosier Lane by artist Matt Tepaea
Image credit: Sydney Morning Herald

While the fires keep burning, it’s important to remember that tragedies don’t fix themselves through anger and animosity. We all have the power and opportunity to get involved and help solve the issue, however small it may seem. Because every little bit counts.