How you can help the Australian wildfires relief effort

Feeling helpless? Here’s what you can do.

Thunderstorms and showers might have brought a little relief to those tackling deadly wildfires across Australia’s east coast, but there are also concerns that lightning could spark more flames, particularly as hot and windy conditions are set to return.

The fires have destroyed 2,000 homes, killed 25 people and decimated an estimated half a billion animals – if not more – as well as swathes of natural habitat.

Faced with numbers like that – and knowing an area of land twice the size of US state Maryland has been devastated – it’s easy to feel total despair and a sense of hopelessness.

However, celebrities including Chris Hemsworth, Sir Elton John and Kylie Jenner have announced donations of one million US dollars (£762,000) apiece to relief efforts, while Nicole Kidman and Pink have donated $500,000 to local fire services.

You might not have a million at your disposal, but even the smallest donation can make a difference.

To support local fire services

You can donate directly to individual state fire services in New South Wales (see links in Kidman’s Instagram post below), and to the NSW Rural Fire Service, which is updating its website and online map with incident hot spots and advice for those in the area.

To support wildfire victims

Donations to the Australian Red CrossDisaster Relief and Recovery fund has enabled the deployment of “1,285 trained staff and volunteers to disaster-affected communities”. They are providing one-to-one support and emergency accommodation to those in need, and note: “Our experience in emergencies shows that donations of money, wherever possible, help affected communities recover sooner.”

The Salvation Army Australia is also encouraging people to donate, rather than send goods, for practical reasons. Aussie organisation GIVIT meanwhile is using donations to buy essential goods and items for those affected.

To support the Australian wildlife

RSPCA New South Wales are running a Bushfire Appeal to support their work entering cleared fire zones, to find and treat injured animals. WIRES is also committed to rescuing (where possible) and caring for creatures affected.

Koalas were already in real trouble. Koala’s In Care Inc.Australian Koala Foundation and WWF are doing what they can.

To support climate change efforts

This you can do it home, without having to make a donation. Droughts and extreme temperatures, arguably as a result of climate change, have exacerbated the bushfires, but we can all make day-to-day changes that will help cut our individual carbon footprint.

Turn off lights and devices when not in use, walk or take the train instead of flying or driving, use up every last bit of food in the house, compost and use water responsibly – you know the drill.