2019/2020 Australian Bushfires

Since September, Australian bushfires have claimed at least 29 lives1 and thousands of homes. Firefighters and front-line responders have worked tirelessly to put out these blazes but struggled to contain them. The crisis has, by and large, united the nation, with people coming together to donate to Australian bushfires and figure out how to help fire victims.

The fires have been devastating for a large proportion of Australia’s population. In New South Wales, fires have led to loss of life, homes and biodiversity in what can only be described as a national tragedy. As of the most recent statistics, experts estimate over a billion animals have been killed2, many of these on the threatened or endangered species list.

Australian Local Business

The economic cost of the bushfires is approximated to be around AUD$4.4 billion3, with decreasing consumer confidence and reconstruction costs exacerbating the situation. Local businesses have suffered greatly as a direct result of the bushfires, especially in tourism-driven towns. Official figures estimate the bushfires have cost the tourism industry AUD$1 billion, leading to loss of income and jobs for many Australian workers.

During late December 2019 and through January 2020, our Moruya office here in NSW has also been affected. In a region threatened by the bushfires, infrastructure has been damaged, and power and communication have been down. As a result of this as well as significant road closures in the area, we had to make the tough decision to temporarily close our office. Unfortunately, members of our staff were impacted by the New Year’s Eve fires and some have even lost their homes.

How We Are Helping Those Affected

It’s been heartbreaking to see the effects of the fires on our community and we’re determined to help however we can. For the month of January, Southern Phone waived all internet, broadband, mobile and home-phone usage fees and charges for fire-affected customers, firefighters and SES volunteers.

Additionally, in combination with AGL, we will donate to Australian bushfires in an effort to play our part in restoring our community. We will be donating $100,000 to community and animal welfare organisations who have been greatly impacted by the ongoing bushfires.

How can I help with the fires?

As the bushfires begin to ease and communities begin to recover it is important to remember that bushfire affected regions still need your help. The path back to normalcy is a long one—homes, businesses and entire towns will need to be rebuilt. If you’re wondering how to help with the fires or how to help fire victims across the nation, remember spending your dollars in affected towns is one of the most powerful things you can do.

With the bushfires obliterating small-town economies, one initiative that’s really helped is Spend With Them.Created by motivational speaker Turia Pitt, Spend With Them is an Instagram page dedicated to inspiring people to support local businesses throughout the recovery process. In just a few days, the page gained 110,000 followers and has since continued to grow.

Similarly, GoWithEmptyEskys is a campaign that urges people to travel to fire-affected areas once it is safe to do so. As Australian traveller Tegan Weber put it: ‘Go with empty skies, empty cars and low fuel… Stay in their hotels, buy from their shops, camp at their campgrounds, buy their fuel, buy bread and milk.’

Local campaign, LoveTheBayBB, is focused on generating positive community spirit and encouraging locals and visitors to share what they love about the Batemans Bay area. Love the Bay gift cards can be purchased at several local businesses as well as online and spent in all participating stores in the Batemans Bay area.


 

Sources:

1 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7903975/Australian-bushfire-death-toll-rises-29-death-Cobargo-man.html

2 https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/14/a-billion-animals-the-australian-species-most-at-risk-from-the-bushfire-crisis

3 https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/08/economic-impact-of-australias-bushfires-set-to-exceed-44bn-cost-of-black-saturday

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