Guide to Helping Australia

Fire Crisis Support Information

Byron Bay, Northern NSW has been unusually dry for at least 9 months.

This region of Australia rarely lacks natural rainfall. Water restrictions have reached stage 4 in some areas, this means limits on watering your garden, sprinkler systems, refilling swimming pools, etc. 


Photo via Saeed Khan
Local Byron Bay surfer and advocate, Andrew Crockett, says he hasn’t seen restrictions in his area for over 20 years.  “We know that many parts of the Australian bush need to burn to survive, but what has happened here in the last few months is on a completely different level. It is so dry that mature trees are shedding their leaves just to survive. You can feel it when you walk about, the crunching of the foliage underfoot, the desaturated colours of bush and the obvious smoke-filled skies.”9CF254DD-C7A1-4AF7-9DB2-1E4C496B0CD3

So far during this fire season 1,687 homes have been destroyed, and since the new year, 771 homes have been lost. As of January 14 there were 105 bush and grass fires burning in NSW, with 38 still needing to be contained, says the NSW Rural Fire Service, who have been working nonstop for more than a month. And an estimated 1 billion animals have died. This feeling of helplessness is real, as parts of the country once again reaches nearly 50 degrees Celsius (122 F) with no rain in sight and summer just hitting its stride.

Australia has been a flame ridden country for over 50,000 years. Fossil records and charcoal deposits in the landscape can prove this. The aboriginal people have been practicing controlled burns for tens of thousands of years. For the last two hundred years colonization has interrupted these practices. Without the aboriginal stewardship and land management practices, the arid landscape has become overgrown with flame prone plants and dry bush underneath the larger canopies of trees. 


Photo via Andrew Quilty

“Maybe this summer is the turning point, where our collective grief turns to action and we recognise the knowledge that First Nations people want to share so that these horrors are never repeated. Our precious country needs us.” Writes Lorena Allam, Indigenous affairs editor, Guardian Australia

3CA1CC1B-9463-4812-976C-E7AB0952DE11Photo via Andrew Quilty

During mid 2019, Rural Fire Service chiefs suggested to their local governments that immediate funding needed to be spent on the ancient aboriginal practice of back burning. This technique of  ‘fighting fire with fire’, clears bush and debris, greatly decreasing the fuel for future catastrophic fires. Unfortunately, the Australian Parliament didn’t take note fast enough.


Photo via Corey Bradshaw of Kangaroo Island

~Moving Forward~

The world has galvanized to support with aid money and personnel. Firefighters from New Zealand, Canada, USA, Singapore, PNG and other countries have come to assist. People have opened their homes to strangers. It’s hard to see through the smoke and destruction but this tragedy could lead to a new future. One where we ask the aboriginal communities for help in actively managing land and design bio regionally specific systems to slow, spread and sink water to fuel healthy soil and plants which can once again serve as habitat for the surviving animals to flourish again and refill their niches in the delicate ecosystems of Australia. 


Photo via Corey Bradshaw of Kangaroo Island

How you can help:

Here are some fundraisers you can donate to immediately,

NSW Rural Fire Service: “Rural Fire Brigades are often more than just an emergency service. They can also be a vital community service, provide a community meeting point or offer assistance with non-emergency roles.”

South Coast Wildlife Aid: “We will do whatever it takes to hike or paddle in food and water to these remote areas and then continue to maintain the native wildlife for as long as necessary.”

Australian comedian Celeste Barber has set up a fundraiser

WIRES Emergency Fund for Wildlife: “It is impossible to know how many animals have perished and it will be many months before the impact on wild populations can be better understood but ecologists at Sydney University have estimated over 800 million animals have been affected in Australia since September.”

Aussie Influencers for Aus

Jack Johnson, Kelly Slater, and many others have posts on Instagram for how they can help, or donate.

Help the animals:

Wildlife victoria

Wild to free

Animals australia

Hanson Bay wildlife sanctuary

Wildlife rescue sc

Deep peace trust

Port macquarie koala hospital

Adopt a koala

Port stephens koalas

 Adopt a koala


Volunteer to help animals:

The rescue collective

Animal Rescue Craft Guild

Kangaroo Island:

Ki Wildlife park

Sa country fire service

Water stations for wild life


Morgan Maassen

John John & Pyzel

Laura Enever

Big ups to Eden Saul, shaper of Dead Kooks for raising $65,000 by raffling off 4 surfboards, and helping inspire the surf community to contribute.

Resources regarding backburning:


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