It's been a long hot spring and summer in Australia and, as I write this, it's far from over with another month and a half until autumn officially kicks in. Many of our states have been ravaged by bushfires that started in September and with each heatwave, many a community are struggling with the results.
Homes and businesses have been lost, lives have been lost, countless flora and fauna lost, trauma and smoky hazes are affecting mental and physical health. The ramifications go far beyond these, however, country people are generally tough and will become strong again.
In recent weeks we have seen a lot of outpouring of compassion and help from many. One such person that stands out is Instagram-sensation, Celeste Barber. Having gone viral with her many interpretations and takes on celebrities in different poses, she has managed to raise a staggering $50million in donations via her Facebook fundraiser and that amount is still growing. It's breaking world records, with the proceeds going to all those affected by the bushfires.
Celeste Barber on the right - one of her viral takes 'surviving the holidays'
Now she is set to host an epic concert at ANZ Stadium that aims to raise more funds for bushfire relief. Helping her out are a host of international and local music icons that will unite to share one stage for Australia in this time of need.
The international line-up for Fire Fight Australia includes rock legends Queen with Adam Lambert, Canadian k.d. lang and shock rocker Alice Cooper. On the home front, there's a cavalcade of Australian music heavyweights that include Olivia Newton-John, John Farnham, Daryl Braithwaite, Delta Goodrem, Lee Kernaghan, Pete Murray, Tina Arena, Grinspoon, Guy Sebastian, Jessica Mauboy, Icehouse, Conrad Sewell, Amy Shark and Baker Boy. Many more are still to be announced.
Queen with Adam Lambert - taking time out from tour to help the bushfire cause
It all kicks off at 1pm on Sunday 16 February and it's sure to be a hoot with Celeste at the helm as she's also a talented actor, writer and comedian. Tickets are priced from $70-$100 (based on seating area), which is very reasonable for a concert this size. They're on sale now through Ticketek and, during your purchase, you can also opt in to donate extra dollars to the bushfire cause.
Proceeds will be distributed, as follows –
For Rescue purposes – to rural and regional fire services in affected states
For Relief and Recovery – to Red Cross Disaster Relief & Recovery
For Rehabilitation – to RSPCA Bushfire Appeal
If you want to help the cause in other ways, here's some options to consider –
Donate specific items
Most charities are now overloaded with clothing and food but there are other items that are needed. Givit is asking for fuel, grocery vouchers, fencing and water tanks. Others may also be looking for specific items.
Donate a service
Those in nearby areas can offer services, such as, transport for people to safe locations, meals for firefighters and empty rooms for those stranded. Talk to charities and those affected to get further ideas on what is needed.
For those, nearby or not, the Red Cross needs blood donations.
Help the animals
Adopt a koala through WWF, provide emergency accommodation for pets and livestock, knit pouches for rescued animals (for the Animal Rescue Craft Guild) and give to the WIRES appeal.
If you're retired or looking to give back to the community, then this might be the way to go and you're likely to make new friends in the process.
Take a road trip to affected towns
After ensuring fires are under control and areas are safe, spend your tourism dollars eating, drinking, shopping and staying in affected regional communities that need a boost more than ever now to help them get back on their feet.
Besides the Fire Fight concert, a number of entertainers are putting on fundraising shows to provide much-needed funds for the victims of the bushfires. One such show is Comedy Steps Up for Bushfire Relief at the Sydney Opera House on 16 March. It features the likes of Tim Minchin, Arj Barker, Kitty Flanagan, Carl Barron and Julia Morris, to name a few.
Hats off to everyone doing their bit to make Australia's worst bushfire season more bearable for the victims.
There are so many fund raising efforts afoot and there will need to be. It is hard to imagine the extent of the loss of life, of property, of our beautiful animals and I can only imagine the trauma being experienced by so many. Keep up the good work everybody, they will all need our help for a long time to come.