In early 2020, the worst bushfires in modern history impacted large swaths of Australia. During that unprecedented fire season, an estimated 46 million acres (18.6 million hectares) burned. The fires killed at least 34 people, destroyed over 2,700 homes, and devastated an estimated 1 billion Australian wildlife.
Give2Asia’s Australian NGO partners have worked tirelessly since the bushfire crisis’s start to support rural volunteer firefighters, displaced families, and environmental restoration efforts. The campaign was conducted for six months and has successfully gathered donations of US$ 475,843.55. The campaign was able to support five partners focusing on: environmental (forest) recovery, protection, and rehabilitation of wildlife, food support for affected families, tools and equipment for fire brigades, and psychosocial support for both the affected communities and the fire brigade team and volunteers.
Program Focus Areas
During the campaign, Give2Asia’s partner NGOs in Australia directly reached more than 5,300 people to address urgent needs. Five partners focused primarily on food support for displaced families and psychosocial support for fire brigades and their families.
Additional projects focused on environmental recovery and protection & rehabilitation of habitat wildlife. Give2Asia’s program implementation allowed partner NGOs to address the same issue over several years.
Partner and Grant Selection
Most partners proposed six-month programs since the fires spread to a broad area in Australia and raised concern from countries worldwide. Give2Asia delivered more than US$200,000 for restoration and rehabilitation, including food and psychosocial support. The funds also support equipment for the 2,000 Brigades volunteers in their rescue work. Each program implementation by partners was designed to reach beneficiaries effectively and address that needs. The COVID-19 pandemic affected the program timelines but didn’t affect the objectives and main activities.
Australian Bushfires Fire Service Volunteer Support Grant 2020: Psychosocial support program by NSW Rural Fire Service Association
Volunteers, who are often the first responders during fire season, can struggle with stress and trauma when they leave their families in emergencies of this magnitude. This mental health program delivered an appreciation to volunteers and their families to recognize their contributions to the community. The events were held on eight occasions. The number of participants increased due to the attendant enthusiasm.
This program also provided access to professional mental health support. Volunteers and their families expressed appreciation for the support they received; it helped them remain strong, energized, and ready for the next duty call.
Protection and Rehabilitation Wildlife Habitat: Recovery program by Greening Australia
This program was implemented to restore Australian bird species’ habitats that were damaged or destroyed by the 2020 bushfires. The project took place on at least five properties near the bushfires-affected area, providing a new home to notable bird species.
Give2Asia’s grant funding was used to plant 5,000 trees. It also will provide fencing, tools, GIS mapping for monitoring, labor, and liaising with property owners over a ten-year period. The five properties are ideal for the project due to their suitability for planting and proximity to the affected areas. The planting event involved volunteers, staff, the site owner, and the community, who all worked hand-in-hand to restore the habitat. As part of the project, Greening Australia also raised awareness of the habitat needs and how to protect affected bird species.
Australia Bushfires Recovery Wildlife Shelter Renewal: Recovery program by Wildlife Victoria
This project by Wildlife Victoria replaced a wildlife shelter in one of the worst bushfire-impacted areas of East Gippsland. The shelter is frequently called on to rehabilitate fire-affected wildlife such as koalas, greater gliders (a vulnerable species), and yellow-bellied gliders. These arboreal species were severely affected by the 2019/20 bushfires. After the bushfires, the Victorian Government’s Department of Environment, Land, Wildlife, and Planning arranged for several koala joeys to be transferred to this shelter for rehabilitation purposes. These koalas had been caught in East Gippsland’s Mallacoota and W Tree bushfires.
Through this grant, the shelter operator installed two large outdoor enclosures on the grounds to better care for injured animals. They also obtained portable, modular enclosures used for slowly releasing animals back into the natural environment. These enclosures can also be loaned out to other wildlife carers within the local region for wildlife capture and release. The grant also funded a medical-grade wildlife treatment and quarantine room, a cool room to keep gum leaves fresh for koala feeding, and a storage shed to house wildlife management equipment.
The new establishment now provides a new wildlife quarantining, assessment, and treatment area. It also features new enclosures to house care for and rehabilitate koalas, grater gliders (vulnerable species), and yellow-bellied gliders.
More Ways to Help
For the tenth month in a row, Eastern Australia has been suffering the devastating effects of flooding. In October 2021, towns in northern Victoria were underwater, and towns in central NSW are now inundated with flood waters. Help is needed to support rebuilding, disaster preparedness, and mental health support. You can learn more and donate here.