Charity donations are great, but is there more we could be doing?

The past eight months in Australia have seen Mother Nature pushed to the limit. We have witnessed some of the most devastating drought in decades cripple our farmers, experienced a horrendous bushfire season which tore through towns and communities, leaving hundreds of families and animals homeless, only to be followed by massive deluge and now flooding. The North of the country braces itself for yet another cyclone whilst the southern states teeter between sweltering heat, soaring temperatures and flash flooding.

Needless to say, our hearts have broken watching this unfold. We have seen the impact of being affected ourselves or seeing loved one’s cope with the fall-out of these natural disasters. In our greatest time of need, charitable organisations reach out and provide vital support and assistance where possible. Millions of dollars have been raised so far in support of those who have lost everything in these bushfire ravaged areas, however now there is speculation as to how and where this money is being spent. Who gets assistance first? How is the money allocated and is this what was intended when the money was donated? Is this enough and is there more we could be doing?

While there is ongoing media speculation on how and where these donations are spent or allocated, communities are still trying to resume some state of normality. It almost seems “un-Australian” that this has been questioned. There needs to be a better way. With a bit of research and thinking outside of the square, there are other ways you can get involved and directly see the impact of your efforts.  You could contact organisations such as Blazeaid who operate in affected areas and register yourself as a volunteer. Please ensure you do not spontaneously arrive at these locations in the event that it is not safe to do so. Locally run volunteering groups are still looking for assistant SES Volunteers, those who are handy to assist in rebuilding fences to keep livestock in and establishing native habitats by tree planting. You could find out how to deliver lunches or coffee to the volunteers to “do your bit”. A homemade sandwich or a warm coffee are never taken for granted.  You can also support local business in towns such as Mollymook, Mallacoota and Kangaroo Island by supporting and encouraging local tourism which is what they need and will continue to need, long after the flames are extinguished. In a world driven by social media, this is a relatively easy thing to share and support, even from afar. Accounts such as @buyfromthebush and @spendwiththem feature businesses affected in local towns. You can jump online and buy their locally made goods which is a great way to put the money directly into the pockets of those affected.

These small steps to help our fellow Australians will go a long way in helping these towns and communities to rebuild. Supporting them directly will make a huge difference in the lives of those affected. Volunteering and seeing your impact firsthand will also make a difference to you as a volunteer. It is so much more rewarding than handing over a $20 note. So have a think about how you can get involved, whether you bring a group of friends or colleagues together and spend a weekend in one of these towns or, collect food and drink supplies to donate to Foodbank. With a little bit of thought, your actions can make the world of difference.