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Community at the heart of the bushfires

Community at the heart of the bushfires

Image source: supplied. Karan White and the team at Animal Patrons Australia

As the bushfires continue across the country, many of us are keen to help with the response effort. The regular smoke over many of our cities is an urgent reminder of the personal impact felt by all Australians, leaving us wanting to make a difference.

Over the past few months we’ve heard stories of community barbeques feeding volunteers in rural areas, family and friends impacted, individuals running emergency accommodation for evacuees and businesses setting aside funding to support people in need.

Simone Eyles, 365Cups founder, put it simply “I'm now home sitting in the quiet listening to the rain which gets interrupted by the sound of choppers and jets landing at Merimbula airport behind me.

My head and heart is both heavy, spinning, clear and full as I try and decompress from the last few days and try and get back to a normal routine.

Our town is usually bustling with visitors yet only a few shops are open. I'm no longer nervous about the future, I'm excited by all the good vibes and the shift that will come after this, a real understanding of how far and wide this country is and how important everyone and every town is in between”

Everyone across our community of women has their story to tell.

For Karan White, the relief effort is about the setup of Animal Patrons Australia, a volunteer and donor driven initiative enabling the rescue and rehabilitation of animals affected by the disaster.

Karan said, “The first week of the [Animals Patrons Australia] informal operation saw our efforts fuel multiple semi-trailers and private vehicles to distribute supplies, provide emergency funding for essential prescription medical supplies to vets in disaster zones and collect over 1.4 ton and approximately 50 cubic metres of donations.”

Experience in emergencies shows that donations of money, wherever possible, help affected communities recover sooner.

Survivors of past bushfires tell us that in addition to the long-term support provided by charities, such as Red Cross, they also need immediate help to cover everyday expenses. The Red Cross provides emergency grants to meet this need, allowing people whose homes have been lost to the fires to assess and purchase what they need most. For many, this is an important step in helping them take back control after losing everything. In turn, local business will start to recover too.


There’s more than one way to donate

We are advised by Government and emergency services that whilst donations of goods could be of assistance, with road closures and changing weather conditions, their ability to use these items is very limited. The needs of first responders and victims are varied and it’s the services and charities on the frontline who are best placed to know what is needed and where.

Of course, we know that not everyone is able to donate financially. If you’re wondering whether there are other ways to help, the answer is: absolutely, yes, and thank you.

  • Make a commitment to assist rural communities to get back on their feet by buying from local bushfire affected areas. These communities will need our support long after bushfires have ceased. Jessy Cameron from the Molten Store has focussed their company Instagram on the purchase for purpose initiative #ShopWithThem, sharing fire impacted small businesses that are remaining open.
  • Volunteer with Animal Patrons Australia through their ‘Take Action’ page, check in on their weekly updates to supply needs coming directly from sanctuaries and other private and public forums, or get in touch if you or your business can become an ongoing benefactor.
  • Encourage your business to support volunteers with volunteer leave packages.
  • Open a line of communication with employees who are themselves affected, or have family in affected regions.
  • Provide your business with access to mental health services and ongoing community support or promote resources such as the Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 or the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444 for practical assistance.
  • Agencies like GIVIT act as a ‘broker’ for donated goods, listing what’s needed and finding a match for the items you might have to give. Once we’re through the acute stage of the disaster, there’ll be more scope for donating goods.
  • Engage your teams in holding morning teas, bake sales, or raffle events. You don’t have to fill an auditorium with people to show your support.
  • You can financially donate to Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery here.


We understand that each customer will have different needs and we encourage our affected customers to discuss their individual needs and the range of support options available (including the CommBank Emergency Assistance Package) with our banking teams. For business customers these can include:

  • Considering additional loan requests and waiving selected fees and charges
  • Loan restructuring for business customers with existing loans.
  • Access to emergency cash grants up to $2,000 to help with those emergency expenses arising from the fires.
  • Additional assistance from our specialists in the Business Financial Assistance team who can provide help, support and further guidance.

Our thoughts remain with those impacted - many of whom are our customers and our people. We thank our emergency services and the many volunteers who continue to work tirelessly to protect our community.