While much of the U.S. battles blizzards and ice storms in the winter months, Australia is experiencing summer and its hottest months. Along with that comes an annual fire season, typically from December to March, when areas of the Australian outback are most susceptible to wildfires, or bushfires.
This season’s bushfires in Australia have been especially devastating, causing problematic air quality earlier in January for residents in Sydney and the country’s capital, Canberra. Meanwhile, certain populations of wildlife have been severely traumatized with burns, loss of habitat, and devastating population loss. Recent rains in the region have reduced the active fires from 60 to 42, and air quality across the country has largely returned to ‘good.’ Plus, firefighters in New South Wales recently announced that the rains have helped to contain all of the fires in the region for the first time in months.
Now that the fires are under control or out, recovery efforts are well underway. If you are wondering how to help Australia recover from these bushfires, consider the following:
Visit or Study Abroad in Australia
Australia receives as much as 3% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from visitors, so traveling or studying abroad in Australia may be the single best thing you can do to help the country recover. In fact, Tourism Australia launched a “Holiday Here This Year” campaign designed to encourage Aussies to stay home this season, helping to bolster the tourism industry.
If you are concerned about your study abroad program’s proximity to the fires, here are some ways you might learn more:
- Where are the fires? Check out this map.
- Where is your program in comparison to the fires? Look at the IFSA program locations on our country guide.
- How big is Australia exactly? Consider this side-by-side map of Australia and the U.S. to help understand the scope of the country. Studying in Gold Coast while there are fires in New South Wales, for example, is comparable to studying in Boston while there are fires around Atlanta.
While in Australia, you can contribute your time to organizations that are helping families and animals affected by the bushfires. Here are a few possibilities:
- BlazeAid helps rebuild after natural disasters such as fires and floods. Joining to help is easy and requires very little advance notice; however, you will need to arrange your own transportation to the nearest camp. Volunteers work in areas that are deemed safe, clearing debris and repairing fences. Students interested in this opportunity should be certain to have an up-to-date tetanus shot prior to participating.
- Conservation Volunteers Australia coordinates wildlife and bushfire recovery efforts across the country, and they are especially accessible for students in cities and areas far from the affected areas. Volunteers might construct nesting boxes for wildlife such as possums, gliders, and bats, which have lost their habitat to the fires. Booking in advance is required as events tend to fill up.
If you are able, numerous organizations are accepting financial donations to assist in the aftermath of this natural disaster. The organizations are too numerous to list. Below are a few of the most popular:
- Australian Red Cross or the American Red Cross
- The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Australia (RSPCA), Australia’s leading animal welfare charity
- The Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service, Inc. (WIRES), Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organization
You can also contribute to the Australian economy by supporting local Aussie businesses. A popular online venue is Buy From the Bush, where you can purchase fashion items, art, gifts, and more.
Because we Care
Because we care, IFSA is proud to announce efforts to help Australia recover from the bushfires. For every student who submits a Fall 2020 application for an IFSA Australia program, we will donate $15 to WIRES, Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organization. If you are thinking of studying in Australia, help us help Australia!
Australia is a popular destination for U.S. college students looking to study abroad. The country delivers high-quality education with a unique cultural experience, magnificent biodiversity, and beautiful landscape. While in Australia, explore all the exciting things you can do. Whether you love art, nature, or science, you are sure to find something to check out. Tourism Australia is a wonderful resource, but remember… if you choose to study on an IFSA program, you’ll also have several excursions and co-curricular events included in your program fee!
FALL 2020 UPDATE
During to the COVID-19 pandemic, IFSA programs across Australia were canceled for fall 2020. Because we care, IFSA is still committed to making a donation to WIRES, Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organization. IFSA will donate $1,000 to WIRES to assist with continued bushfire rehabilitation efforts. We look forward to helping students see the beauty of Australia in the near future!