Australia turns from defense to offense in wildfire battle

Forestry Corportaion worker Dale McLean patrols a controlled fire as they work at building a containment line at a wildfire near Bodalla, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020. Authorities are using relatively benign conditions forecast in southeast Australia for a week or more to consolidate containment lines around scores of fires that are likely to burn for weeks without heavy rainfall. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

The Australian disaster is difficult for me to get my mind around. I want to help heal the country and you may want to do the same.

But how can you be sure that the money you are giving is going for the needs of the country?

USA Today recently listed Australian organizations that appear to be on the up-and-up. Here is a selection:

In both Victoria and New South Wales, two of the states hardest hit by the blazes, you can donate directly to the state fire authority or to a local fire brigade, many of which are volunteer-based. For fire departments in Victoria, donate at cfa.vic.gov.au. For departments in New South Wales, donate on the government’s website.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has also set up bank accounts to collect donations for the families of volunteer firefighters who have been killed while on duty. Donate at rfs.nsw.gov.au.

Australian Red Cross: Since July, the Australian Red Cross has assisted more than 18,600 people affected by the fires, according to its website. The organization says that it is currently supporting thousands of people in evacuation centers and recovery hubs. Learn more about where your money goes and donate at redcross.org.au.

WIRES: The New South Wales-based Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc., Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organization, is accepting donations to fund the rescue and care of animals affected by the fires. In December, WIRES received more than 20,000 calls, and volunteers attended more than 3,300 rescues, according to the organization’s website. All animal rescuers are volunteers. Learn more at wires.org.au.

Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital: Bindi Irwin, the daughter of famed wildlife conservationist and “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, has been taking in many displaced animals at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, which is owned by her mother, Terri. Donate at wildlifewarriors.org.au.

Wildlife Victoria: A nonprofit that provides wildlife emergency response services, Wildlife Victoria is accepting donations to distribute to wildlife shelters to help rebuild enclosures and equipment, the organization says on its website. Donate at wildlifevictoria.org.au.

RSPCA Australia: The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Australia is accepting donations to fund the rescue and treatment of animals affected by the fires. RSPCA chapters in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia are accepting donations. www.rspca.org.au.

Australian Koala Foundation: This foundation allows you to “adopt” a koala through a symbolic foster program; your monthly fee funds protection efforts for wild koalas. You can also pay to “plant a tree” to help restore koala habitat. The foundation is also asking that koala lovers write letters to politicians in support of the Koala Protection Act. Go to www.savethekoala.com/adopt-a-koala.

And finally, remember that it is likely climate change is the cause of this disaster. If you think human beings are the cause of the change, do what you can to save the planet.

Dave Peyton is on Facebook. His email address is davepeyton@comcast.net.

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