Here Are Some Ways You Can Help People And Animals Affected By The Bushfires
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Australia has been gripped by a bushfire crisis that is seemingly unprecedented in recent history.
Large swathes of the country have been burned to a crisp, lives have been lost, homes have been destroyed and local animal populations have been wiped out.
Unless you're on the fire front itself, it's easy to watch the daily updates and feel helpless.
But there are plenty of big and small ways that you can help.
Getting People Back On Their Feet
For all the people who have lost their homes, properties or had their belongings incinerated, they'll need to rebuild their lives from the ground up.
The Australian Red Cross released a statement, saying: "Our experience with emergencies shows that donations of money, where possible, help affected communities recover soon.
"Our specialist emergency volunteers are providing psychological first aid, working at evacuation centres and helping people to get in touch with their loved ones."
People have been advised that donating food, while generous, can sometimes hinder services like these rather than help as they don't have the capacity to store and distribute it. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said that money is a far better donation than anything physical.
But you can also donate blood and plasma, as well as breast milk to help those who might need to access that during the bushfire emergency. The Red Cross is taking donations for all of those and the Mother's Milk Bank also helps babies who need milk.
Foodbank is also taking money and is hoping to send 5,000 food relief hampers to people affected by the fires in Victoria's East Gippsland area.
GiveIt also will help get people the things they specifically need via charities. They have two campaigns at the moment for New South Wales and Queensland.
More than half a billion animals are predicted to have been killed in the bushfire crisis, which is a heartbreaking statistic that has captured the world's attention.
But there are things you can do to help creatures of all shapes and sizes.
First and foremost, virtually anyone can set out some water outside their property. It might not seem like much but you never know what animal will pass by your property and desperately need a drink.
If you want to donate your money towards the services that are protecting and rehabilitation our animals then there are loads of places to do that.
The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital has been a massive focal point as crews there look after the hundreds of koalas that have been affected by the fires on the NSW mid-north coast. You can donate to them here.
The NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) have been working across the state to try and make sure animals can survive and recover properly. Donate here.
Other organisations like Animal Welfare League, who have been on the ground with mobile vet centres in crisis areas, and the RSPCA, who help more with domesticated animals, are also helping towards the effort.
Help Our Firefighters
There have been plenty of fundraisers set up to help the state-run fire services around Australia. Comedian Celeste Barber, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban and P!nk are some of the people who have helped raise more than $32 million in a few days.
But if you want to send your money directly to the service then you can either donate to your local fire brigade (which will ensure the funds go straight to them) or to the specific state fire service.
Volunteer Your Time
Another massive way you can help is by volunteering for your state fire service.
You won't be able to be on the frontlines any time soon as you'll have to go through security checks and be trained, but you will be able to ensure that if another bushfire crisis breaks out then you can be on hand.
Crews have been working overtime to keep us safe and they can always use another set of hands on the ground.
Open Your Home
Because there are so many people who have lost their homes, there are likely thousands of Aussies who are now displaced with nowhere to go.
If you've got a bedroom spare then you can always advertise outside your property that you're willing to take someone in.
If you want to make it a bit more official, Airbnb has launched 'Open Homes', which allows you to offer temporary accomodation to relief workers and evacuees. Other similar services that are available include FindABed and Helping Homes.
There are loads of local fundraisers that have been set up for specific causes like Help Cobargo Rebuild, Save Mogo, Kangaroo Island Fire Fund, the Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund and the Bendigo Bank Bushfire Disaster Appeal (which will direct money to places in East Gippsland, Hume, southeast New South Wales and Adelaide Hills).
If you jump onto social media and check if there are any others then you might be able to ensure you money goes into your local community.
You can always start your own fundraiser as well.
Helping Those In The Bush
Farmers and those in rural communities have already been battling the severe drought and now bushfires have hurt them while they're down.
BlazeAid is an organisation that helps to rebuild fences and other structures that have been damaged or destroyed.
If there are any other ways that people can help, please get the word out because it can mean the world of difference to people or animals who have been devastated by the bushfire crisis.