6 Powerful Examples of Unity in the Midst of Australia’s Bushfire Crisis
These stories are so heartwarming.
Australia is burning.
Bushfires have been raging across much of the nation’s south-east coast since September. Ten million hectares — just under the entire landmass of England — has been destroyed. The relentless fires have killed at least 29 people and an estimated 1 billion animals.
Around 2,600 homes and structures have been damaged, leaving tens of thousands of people displaced.
In this time of unimaginable grief, there has been one shining ray of positivity. The people of Australia, as well as individuals across the world, have come together to support one another in an almost unprecedented way.
Below, we look at six examples of selflessness and kindness during the bushfire crisis.
1. Local and international celebrities make massive donations
In January, Australian comedian Celeste Barber started a Facebook fundraiser and asked her 6.7 million Instagram followers to donate. In three days, the fund, which was shared by the likes of Natalie Portman and Selma Blair, contained $32 million AUD. The fundraiser — which will go to firefighters and victims in Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia — currently sits at a casual $51 million AUD.
Celebrities who have publicly donated to various fire relief funds include singer P!NK, who donated $500,000, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, who likewise gave $500,000, Russell Crowe, who donated $105,000, and Metallica, who donated $750,000.
I am totally devastated watching what is happening in Australia right now with the horrific bushfires. I am pledging a donation of $500,000 directly to the local fire services that are battling so hard on the frontlines. My heart goes out to our friends and family in Oz ❤️ pic.twitter.com/kyjDbhoXpp— P!nk (@Pink) January 4, 2020
Kylie Jenner, Elton John, and Australian-born Chris Hemsworth have all donated a cool $1 million.
2. The best musicians in the world band together
Global Citizen Festival 2019 headliners Queen + Adam Lambert, as well as Alice Cooper, Olivia Newton-John, Pete Murray, Peking Duk, and Tina Arena are among the musicians who have announced they will come together to perform at Fire Fight Australia, a spectacular concert that will take place at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium on Feb. 16 to aid bushfire relief.
Proud to be performing with @QueenWillRock at #FireFightAustralia this February!! Help us support national bushfire relief. Tickets go on sale TODAY at 12pm AEDT from https://t.co/XPRNQrdnZ6pic.twitter.com/aCKwy3NN6r— ADAM LAMBERT (@adamlambert) January 12, 2020
In Melbourne, Australian acts Angus and Julia Stone, Briggs, Gang of Youths, Jack River, and Tash Sultana will unite to play their most popular hits at the Down to Earth concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. All of the profits will go to humanitarian aid organization Red Cross and animal rescue organization WIRES.
The funds will likewise go toward “organizations that focus on long term solutions, education, and leadership for the fire and climate emergency in Australia,” organizers behind the concert wrote in a media statement.
Countless other festivals, concerts, and gigs have popped up across the country.
3. A group of Sikh volunteers hands out free vegetarian meals
Members of Sikh Volunteers Australia, a Melbourne-based non-profit organization, have traveled over 700 kilometers to bushfire-affected towns to serve free vegetarian meals to hundreds of people. The legendary group says they will stay in the area until normality is restored.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews took to Twitter to thank the volunteers for their generosity.
"There’s a saying that in a crisis, we should look for the helpers,” he wrote. “These legends from Sikh Volunteers Australia drove up to Bairnsdale from Melbourne on Monday — and they’ve been serving free, hot meals ever since. People helping people. That's what Victoria is all about.”
There’s a saying that in a crisis, we should look for the helpers.— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) January 2, 2020
These legends from Sikh Volunteers Australia drove up to Bairnsdale from Melbourne on Monday – and they’ve been serving free, hot meals ever since.
People helping people. That's what Victoria is all about. pic.twitter.com/lg9sFW3ElE
4. The world knits for injured wildlife
The Animal Rescue Craft Guide, a Facebook page that asks for volunteers to sew or knit pouches for injured animals, said the global response has been “mind-blowing.” Thousands of people from countries as far away as the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Hong Kong have made pouches for orphaned joeys, mittens for burnt koalas, wraps for displaced bats, and blankets for possums and birds.
5. The world’s tennis stars raise funds
The world’s top tennis stars have rallied together to raise $4.8 million for bushfire relief. Roger Federer, Nick Kyrgios, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Novak Djokovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Alexander Zverev all gave up their time to play in the Australian Open Rally for Relief exhibition on Wednesday.
🎾 How many Grand Slam titles on one court? 🏆— ABC Grandstand (@abcgrandstand) January 15, 2020
The @AustralianOpen raised almost $5 million for bushfires last night. #Rally4Relief#RallyForRelief#AusOpenhttps://t.co/KsymigeDrSpic.twitter.com/sONQ42PiHe
As if that wasn’t enough, Federer and Nadal also donated a combined total of $250,000, while Canberra-native Nick Kyrgios announced he would donate $200 for every ace he hits in any tennis tournament this summer. Wheelchair tennis star Dylan Alcott is likewise giving away $800 per ace across the summer.
Australian Ash Barty is donating her entire $64,000 Brisbane Tennis 2020 prize money to bushfire relief.
Serena WIlliams has also donated her $43,000 prize money from her first title win since becoming a mother three years ago.
6. Australian and international retailers donate 100% of profits
Over 45 local and international retailers came together to hold a massive charity campaign on Jan. 9. All of the profits from the day were donated to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund in what the big-name brands said was an effort to make a "real difference."
Some of the generous brands involved include eBay, General Pants, Hugo Boss, Levis, Neuw Denim, Seafolly, Ugg, and Wrangler.
We are absolutely heartbroken by the bush fire crisis across our beautiful country and we want to help! On Thursday January 9th, Seafolly will be donating 100% of profits to @redcrossau to help those affected by the bush fire crisis. Donations can also be made at the checkout in-store and online.
"The size and scale of these fires in many parts of Australia is unprecedented,” said Belinda Dimovski, head of engagement and support at the Australian Red Cross, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “But so is the incredible wave of support we’ve seen from people and businesses around the country and overseas.”
Dimovski continued: “The funds raised will ensure our trained staff and volunteers can continue to be there for the long-haul, helping people take a deep breath, take stock of their losses, and slowly but surely get back on their feet.”
Wondering how you can support the fire relief efforts? Learn more here.