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Disaster Profile: Australian Bushfires

The Australia Bushfires began in August 2019 and spread throughout New South Wales (NSW) in early November, due to high temperatures and prolonged drought. In early December 2019, the fires spread to Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia, and most recently in early January 2020, to the Australian Capital Territory. The fires continue to burn over 26 million acres across Australia [ECHO Jan 31]. High winds and ongoing drought continue to fuel the spread of the fires at a pace that makes it difficult for emergency services to access and evacuate some communities. In areas where the fires have been contained, communities are beginning to embark on the long road to recovery.

Our Work: Disaster Assessment

Our Disaster Assessment Response Team (DART) has now completed an in depth ground assessment of two areas of South Australia – Kangaroo Island and Adelaide Hills. We have also simultaneously been doing remote outreach and assessments of affected areas in Victoria and New South Wales. 

Based on our findings, we have decided to focus our efforts on Kangaroo Island. The scale and scope of need there are extensive, there’s an opportunity for our volunteer-powered model to fill a gap immediately and the local community have expressed a real interest in having us support them on-island.   

The dominant scope of work that has been identified is the installation of sediment fences to protect water supplies from contamination. This needs to be completed before the rainy season begins; it will be our first priority. Additional scopes of work focusing on environmental impact, habitat restoration and livelihoods support are likely to be included at a later date, and we will be working closely with relevant government departments and local communities to coordinate these activities. 

By the end of February, we will be in a position to announce the start date of our Australia Bushfire Relief Program, and are looking forward to welcoming volunteers to join us to make a positive impact. 

A special thank you to our generous partner, Jefferies, for providing an initial 500,000 AUD grant to support the launch of our Australia Bushfire Program.

In the News

To learn more about the bushfires in Australia, watch the video below.

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