In mid-November, the NSW Rural Fire Service declared fire danger to be “catastrophic”, with conditions being worse than originally forecast, extending across most of the State including the Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter, and Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions.
Since then we've experienced what can only be described as a horrifying disaster on an unprecedented scale.
A toxic blanket of smoke has hovered across Sydney for months, with each day ending in an awe-inducing, tangerine-hued apocalyptic-looking sunset, and a dusting of pale white ash falling from the sky. A "mega-fire" the size of Greater Sydney has razed millions of acres of land and hundreds of millions of animals have perished, while fires are too large to put out, humanitarian crises are arising in towns and holiday villages cut off from roads in or out and, most devastatingly, lives have been lost.
Images and videos of smoke billowing high above beautiful coastlines, heritage-listed bushland in the Blue Mountains, the stunning Southern Highlands and South Coast; towers of fiery red tearing through trees down to sandy beaches and devastated townships and displaced animals dusted in ash all feel much more frightening than previous bushfire spells we know—because they are. Climate change has meant a much more ferocious, terrifying season and the most destructive and most widespread fire in Australia's recorded history.
Thousands of homes and farms have been destroyed, leaving many families displaced this holiday season. Animals are flooding into shelters, including (heart-achingly) NSW’s shrinking koala population.
It's both terrifying and overwhelming—but you can make a difference and donations are your best option.
To help out those affected by the NSW bushfires, including our native animals, pets and livestock, we’ve compiled a list of charities and organisations you can donate to.
Donate To Fire And Emergency Services
Brave volunteers by the thousands make up the NSW Rural Fire Service—and they have been fearlessly battling blazes for months, forgoing holidays and family time in order to protect lives and property. Their efforts have been beyond heroic. You can donate to the NSW RFS here.
Donate To Community Services
Hundreds of properties have been lost this fire season, leaving families without homes and, in some cases, business owners without business premises too. In a time of crisis, community services are vital. Below are bushfire and disaster relief appeals aimed at supporting communities devasted by this season's bushfires.
- Red Cross Disaster Relief And Recovery
- Vinnies Bushfire Appeal
- Food Bank Bushfire Appeal
- Fire Relief Fund For First Nations Communities
Donate To Wildlife Services
According to a preliminary study compiled by ecologists at the University of Sydney, more than 480 million mammals, birds and reptiles have died across Australia in the bushfire season to date. This leaves an enormous task ahead for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation services. Below are just some of the appeals from organisations on the ground working to protect and assist injured wildlife, as well as fund the regeneration of lost habitat.
- WIRES Bushfire Emergency Appeal
- Foundation For National Parks And Wildlife Emergency Appeal
- Science For Wildlife Emergency Bushfire Appeal For Koalas
- Taronga Emergency Koala Appeal
- The Rescue Collective
- Port Macquarie Koala Hospital
- Koalas In Care
- Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary
- WWF Australia Bushfire And Koala Appeal
- RSPCA Bushfire Appeal
- University of Sydney Koala Drinking Stations Appeal
- Animal Rescue Craft Guild
If you're able to house displaced pets or livestock, or have means of animal transport (like horse floats, for example), join the Fire Pet Evacuation NSW Facebook Page where pet owners are both making appeals and sharing information.
Finally, for anyone living around, in and near our state’s beautiful bushland, this season you will need to have a plan and be on high alert. If that’s you, we highly recommend downloading the RFS’s incredible Fires Near Me app on your smartphone (the web version is here). You’ll be sent notifications about changing conditions, new fires, road closures and RFS emergency instructions. If you’re worried about loved ones, you can set up locations to watch for detailed information.
We will continue to update this list. If there is an organisation or appeal you think should feature here, please email [email protected]
For more information from the NSW RFS, check here.
Image credit: Getty