Get the facts on Australian bushfires
Australia is susceptible to bushfires and each summer bushfires affect some parts of Australia. More widespread and more damaging than other years, it is important to note that while 3% of Australia's land area was directly impacted -- the vast majority of Australia remains perfectly safe and unaffected. Australia is resilient and is open for the unique and innovative business, travel, education and adventure only Australia has to offer.
This page offers information about this year’s bushfires, how you can help and what the Australian Government is doing to respond.
If you have immediate concerns for friends or family in Australia, please contact:
- For UK citizens travelling in Australia -- UK Government’s Consular Emergency Centre in London: +44 (0) 20 7008 1500
- For those impacted or displaced in Australia, Australian Red Cross through ‘Register.Find.Reunite’: https://register.redcross.org.au
Each year there is a fire season during the Australian summer, with hot, dry weather making it easy for blazes to start and spread. The current bushfires are unprecedented and, as the Prime Minister has stated, climate change is a contributing factor. Global weather patterns are resulting in hotter, drier and longer summer seasons, raising the risk of bushfires. This year’s fires have been have been more widespread and damaging than other years.
In total, more than 10 million hectares have been burned across Australia's south, east and west, with over 3,000 homes lost. As of 28 January 2020, 33 people have lost their lives in bushfires this season, including volunteer firefighters. Australia is about halfway through its summer season. Normally, temperatures peak in January and February, meaning relief is expected around March or April, as temperatures cool.
Many Australian destinations, including some of our most popular places, including the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, most of the Blue Mountains, Sydney and Melbourne are unaffected by the fires.
How the Australian Government is responding
State and federal authorities have been working hard to combat the fires. An initial $2 billion has been being allocated under a National Bushfire Recovery Fund to kick-start recovery, rebuilding and resilience measures. This will include rebuilding vital infrastructure like schools and health facilities struck by fire.
More than 2,000 firefighters are working on the ground in NSW alone, with more support added from the US, Canada, and New Zealand, who have sent additional firefighters to help across the country. The federal government has also provided military assistance, including nearly 6,400 army personnel, air force aircraft, and navy cruisers for firefighting, evacuation, search and rescue, and clean-up efforts.
Recovery and restoration activities supported by the National Bushfire Recovery Fund are helping communities get back on their feet.
Australia's Wildlife and Biodiversity
While the Australian bush is adapted to regular fires, and much of the burned bush will regrow quickly, it is clear that recent bushfires have had a significant impact on the environment, in particular our native plants and animals. The Australian Government has announced an initial investment of $50 million to support immediate work to protect wildlife and longer-term protection and restoration efforts following the Australian bushfires.
$25 million is being used to establish an emergency critical intervention fund to assist the immediate survival of affected animals and plants. The remaining $25 million is being made available to support wildlife rescue, zoos, and conservation groups with on the ground activities.
- Up to $7 million for Natural Resource Management groups in bushfire affected areas to carry out emergency interventions including control of feral predators, other pest animals and weeds, and habitat protection measures (such as fencing and nest boxes).
- Up to $7.5 million to support on-ground wildlife rescue, protection and care services and address emerging needs on the frontline.
- Up to $5 million for Greening Australia to increase supply of seed and native plants for revegetation.
- Up to $3 million for Taronga Zoo, Zoos South Australia and Zoos Victoria for treatment and the establishment of insurance populations. This is in addition to the $3 million supporting Queensland Koala Hospitals and the $3 million for Koala habitat restoration in northern NSW and south-east Queensland.
- Up to $2.5 million for Conservation Volunteers Australia to mobilise volunteers through a national coordination point.
A panel of experts, led by Threatened Species Commissioner Dr Sally Box, is advising the Government on further critical interventions required and developing a strategy to build back up animal and plant populations, ensuring their resilience into the future.
How the UK has helped Australia
Australia is grateful for the support and solidarity the UK has shown us during ongoing bushfires.
In his Australia Day remarks, the High Commissioner for Australia to the United Kingdom paid tribute to the spirit in which the United Kingdom has stood with Australia; saying:
I offer my sincere thanks to everyone in the United Kingdom who has contacted me and my office offering messages of support, condolence and solidarity. Read more
Across the United Kingdom, there have been outpourings of support – big and small -- to support Australia and Australians. The UK Government has supported Australia in our recovery, sending a UK team in January to look at how best to assist with our recovery and how we might cooperate on managing future fire seasons.
Such help, readily offered between close friends, epitomises the enduring partnership between our two nations.
How you can help
One of the best ways other countries can help affected communities is by continuing to visit, study and do business with Australia. Communities across Australia also deeply appreciate the generous donations individuals, groups and businesses are making from around the world.
The Australian Government continues to receive offers of assistance from the global community, domestic organisations, groups and individuals. These requests are being worked through in close consultation with the states and territories to determine the best options to support our emergency service personnel and fire-affected communities.
Should you wish to make a monetary contribution, there are several ways.
Charitable Contributions in the UK and Australia
While the High Commission cannot accept contributions, we are aware of the following fundraisers which are supporting bushfire relief in Australia:
UK charities accepting with the benefit of Gift Aid for UK taxpayers
The National Bushfire Recovery Agency have provided a directory of a large number of charities covering the breadth of the bushfire response. You can access that directory, here.
Fundraiser events in the UK
We have been heartened to learn that there are several fundraisers planned to support Australian bushfire relief in the United Kingdom. Learn more about these events, below:
If you have planned a fundraiser, get in touch and we will add it to our list. Please email us directly at email@example.com