We have a spirit that is unburnable

Flames have ravaged our sacred land and many Australians face the loss of life, homes, animals, and livelihoods. The task of relief and recovery seems insurmountable, yet the outpouring of generosity brings with it a sense of consolation.

I wept as I watched Kangaroo Island beekeeper Dave Clifford choking on his words yesterday in an ABC interview as he grappled with losing hundreds of his Ligurian honey bees to the fires.

There are grave fears for the endangered tailed dunnart and the thousands of koalas on the island. Such heartache, and uncertainty surrounds Australians in this difficult time but in Clifford’s words ‘We have a spirit that is unburnable’.

This is the Aussie ‘battler’ at heart. He is David in the face of Goliath and somehow he will find the resilience to piece together his life in the wake of such a catastrophe.

Clifford urged people not to give up on Kangaroo Island because its residents were not going to give up. It is a community dependent on agriculture and tourism. The island boasts many natural wonders and about a third of it has been burned, including large parts of Flinders Chase National Park.

There has been overwhelming support in the form of clothes, food, water, and money. While the gestures are appreciated, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has urged Australians who want to show their support to donate money. The donation of physical goods has created logistical challenges as there is limited storage and a lack of human resources to assign to them.

How you can help

We can help our fellow South Australians in the Adelaide Hills and on Kangaroo Island to sustain their livelihoods by supporting their businesses. While much of the island’s economy is based on agriculture and primary industries, about ten per cent of Kangaroo Island’s residents produce art for sale. The Authentic Kangaroo Island website lists the businesses on the island and directs visitors to sellers’ websites where they can make a donation.

A campaign to showcase original creations from rural communities facing drought began in October 2019. It was a call-to-action named ‘Buy From the Bush’ and it encouraged people to invest in small businesses heavily affected by the drought. The hashtags #stuffthedrought and #buyfromthebush have gained momentum and it has gained over 180,000 supporters.

The entire nation is indebted to those at the fire-front. Our volunteer fire fighters are incredible and every year they selflessly save lives. Australians can donate to state-based brigades like the South Australia Country Fire Service, New South Wales Rural Fire Service, and Victoria Country Fire Authority.

For Australian communities affected by the fires the road to recovery will be a long one. The Prime Minister of Australia released a statement on 4 January pledging support to affected communities and outlining the Australian Defence Force’s operations.

“Our government’s entire focus is on supporting Australians in this difficult time – those facing immediate danger and those who are recovering after the fire-front has passed.”

– Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia

You can read Scott Morrison’s full statement here.

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