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6 min read

Funding Australia’s Bushfire Response

It’s been a confronting start to 2020, yet people around Australia have responded swiftly and generously as the nationwide bushfire crisis continues to unfold. 

We have received many calls and messages from members of the ACF community who feel compelled to do something to help those affected by the fires, or to ensure the situation does not get worse in years to come. Indeed, many of you have already acted. This fire season, ACF community members have donated more than $300,000 to Wildlife Victoria, WIRES NSW, Australian Red Cross, Salvation Army, Country Fire Authority, NSW Rural Fire Service, Rural Fire Brigades Association QLD and Climate Council.

The circumstances are overwhelming, as are the many ways you can provide support. We have carefully assembled funding opportunities to assist with the bushfire crisis, which span emergency response, rebuilding efforts, disaster resilience and climate change policy advocacy.

FUNDING ADVICE

  • Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. Two thirds of disaster relief funding goes to emergency response and only one third to rebuilding and resilience (Centre for Disaster Philanthropy 2019). It’s OK to be talking about (and funding) rebuilding, resilience and the future implications of climate change now, and in the months ahead.
  • Give cash over goods. This is the message the government and fire authorities have shared. Donated goods need to be checked, packed, transported, stored, and distributed. This can strain organisations that are trying to provide support in the field. If you’re intent on donating something other than funds, consider going through GIVIT as this platform has been established to ensure goods given are things communities are asking for. The Australian Red Cross also very much need blood donations.
  • Do your due diligence (or ask the team to do it for you). Unfortunately, times of crisis often see a rise in fraudulent fundraising efforts. If you’re not donating through your fund (in which case we will identify any issues), be wary of fundraising efforts with little information available and generically named or ambiguous entities like ‘The Bush Fire Fund’. Contact grants@communityfoundation.org.au if you come across a fundraiser you are unsure about.
  • There are places philanthropy can help that government agencies might not. With the increase in extreme weather events, governments cannot fully fund recovery. Therefore, private funders have opportunities to develop innovative solutions to help with recovery efforts and to prevent or mitigate future disasters that the government is not well placed to execute.

WHERE TO GIVE

EMERGENCY RESPONSE AND RELIEF

AFFECTED FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES

The Bushfire Disaster Appeal has also been established through a joint government, business and community effort and allows you to make a national or state-specific donation. This entity is, however, not eligible to receive grants from ACF funds.

GoFundMe page has been set up to provide culturally-sensitive support for First Nations communities affected by the fires. We are currently looking into the recipient of these funds and the process around distribution. If you are interested in finding out more, let us know.

Foodbank has been appointed the primary food relief organisation, and you can select which state your donation goes to.

WILDLIFE

The RSPCA is coordinating efforts across state borders.

STATE FIRE SERVICES

These are government funded and run organisations with memberships comprised of local fire brigades across their state. Rural fire services rely upon large volunteer work forces (NSW’s RFS is the world’s largest volunteer fire service).

This app lets you search for responding organisations across the country and is a good place to find your state or local fire service.

RECOVERY AND REBUILDING

Many of the organisations listed in the Emergency Response section will shift to rebuilding efforts and mental health support in the future – providing funding ongoing can be a big help.

AFFECTED FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES

Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal Disaster Resilience and Recovery Fund gets funding into communities to assist with their preparedness activities, and to have funds available to support them through the medium to long-term aftermath of a disaster, long after the headlines have moved on to something else. Funds are invested, alongside FRRR’s existing corpus funds, with the returns used to support communities.

Local Community Foundations can be a great place to start when looking for place-based rebuilding and resilience funding opportunities. Many Community Foundations across the country are in fire affected areas. We’ll be providing more information about this soon. In the meantime, get in touch with Ben Rodgers, Chair of Australian Community Philanthropy to learn if there’s a Community Foundation in a fire affected area you care about.

BlazeAid is a volunteer-run organisation that works alongside local communities to rebuild fences and other structures that have been damaged or destroyed after a fire.

WILDLIFE

Birdlife Australia assists landowners and government with bird-safe fire management and rehabilitation.

WWF’s Help Save Koalas appeal replants trees in critical koala habitats post-fire and protects existing forest and woodland and the wildlife that live there.

POLICY REFORM

The Climate Council Emergency Leaders for Climate Action campaign is comprised of 22 former senior emergency service leaders with first-hand experience of escalating climate change impacts, who are uniting to push for strong leadership on climate change action. ACF collective giving fund Groundswell is raising money to make their first grant of $50,000 to this campaign. You can join as a Groundswell Member (via interfund transfer) to contribute to this grant, or give directly to Climate Council.

The Australia Institute is proposing the creation of a National Climate Disaster Fund, financed by a levy of $1 per tonne of carbon dioxide pollution resulting from all coal, gas and oil produced in Australia. Australia Institute research has shown that such a levy would currently raise around $1.5 billion a year.