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Bushfire crisis: What to do and how you can help

As bushfires continue to rage across Victoria and Australia, our hearts and thoughts are with everyone affected.

Wednesday 8 January 2020 10:38pm
Burnt forest

As bushfires continue to rage across Victoria and Australia, our hearts and thoughts are with everyone affected.

This unprecedented tragedy has devastated communities and caused unimaginable destruction to our state. But the crisis is far from over.

What can you do?

Stay safe

With extreme weather conditions predicted to continue in the coming weeks and months, Victorians must stay aware and stay safe. Victoria’s Emergency Services are best placed to support anyone in the affected areas, so we strongly encourage you to follow their advice.

Monitor VicEmergency warnings:

Official warnings and information about areas affected by fires is available through Victoria’s Emergency Services:

VicEmergency Hotline – call 1800 226 226

In-language VicEmergency Hotline – call 131 450 (Translating and Interpreting Service)

VicEmergency website emergency.vic.gov.au/respondExternal Link

VicEmergency app – download the app on your device via the Apps Store (Apple) or GooglePlay (Android)

We encourage you to support community members in your area by passing on these details.

We are particularly concerned for members of multicultural communities, especially new migrants and refugees, and those for whom English is a second language.

For these communities, please share the in-language hotline 131 450 to ensure they get translations and interpreting support to understand the warnings and information.

In-language information

There are also a number of translated materials available on fire safety, survival and recovery to assist Victorians. Refer to our Fire safety: In-language information for links to these.

Air quality

Smoke from the fires is far reaching. It’s not only affecting air quality in areas close to the fires, it is now also posing a threat to people hundreds of kilometres away, including Melbourne.

Monitor the air quality ratings via the Environmental Protection AgencyExternal Link . Please take particular care if you suffer from asthma and look out for others who may have Asthma as well as the elderly or young.

The latest air quality information is available on the EPA AirwatchExternal Link .

Counselling and support

For those who may need support or counselling during this crisis, there are a number of online and telephone services available:

Lifeline – call 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.auExternal Link

Beyond Blue – call 1300 22 46 36 or visit beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-supportExternal Link

Community action

The true impact of the devastation is yet to come and recovery efforts will take months, if not years.

Communities will need rebuilding, and people will need financial and emotional support.

There are lots of ways you can support Victorians affected by the fires.

Make a donation

A Bushfire Disaster Appeal has been established by the Victorian Government in partnership with Bendigo Bank Community Enterprise Foundation and the Salvation Army to support Victorians impacted by the fires.

Donations to the Bushfire Disaster Appeal can be made at any Bendigo Bank branch or online via communityenterprisefoundation.com.au/make-a-donation/bushfire-disaster-appeal/External Link

All donations of $2 or more are tax deductible and donors will be provided with a tax receipt through the Foundation.

Emergency management personnel are busy working with local councils in the affected areas to assess the needs of their communities.

At the moment, a donation of money is much more effective and provides more flexibility than a donation of pre-loved goods. Please hold onto your material donations until those affected know what they need.

Sikh community volunteers meet Premier Dan Andrews
Premier Daniel Andrews MP with members of Sikh Volunteers Australia.

Recovery efforts and volunteering

The Victorian Government is establishing a new Bushfire Recovery Victoria agency to lead the rebuilding and recovery process.

Many organisations are also coordinating volunteer opportunities for people who wish to lend a hand. We will share more information on the coordinated recovery efforts as they evolve and connect people looking to volunteer to support their fellow Victorians.

Strength of our communities

We have been inspired and impressed to learn about the many wonderful things our communities are doing to assist those affected by the fires and to support emergency services workers on the frontline.

We would very much like to hear about what your communities are doing so we can promote it and direct other volunteers to your organisations to assist with further efforts. If you have some great work to share, please email us at info@vmc.vic.gov.au

The Victorian Multicultural Commission would like to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of firefighters and emergency services and thank those community members going above and beyond to support those in need.

May the strength of Victorians continue to lead us through this tragedy.

Stay safe.

Victorian Multicultural Commission

Reviewed 23 June 2021

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