The past five months – but especially these last few weeks – have been pretty tough for us Aussies. We’ve watched an estimated 6.3 million hectares and 1400 homes burn, seen countless images of injured wildlife and listened, with bated breath, to news updates, hoping the number of lives lost won’t keep rising.
Simply put, the current bushfire situation is catastrophic.
Disasters like the one we’re facing can be tough to explain to our kids. They’re impossible to prevent and difficult to predict, so answering your children’s questions about ‘how?’ and ‘why?’ can be tricky terrain.
To help your children better understand, try…
- Taking the time to talk: hear your children out – their worries may be entirely different to what you had expected. Listen to what’s bothering them, and take the time to discuss it together.
- Using simple, clear language: your five-year-old will struggle to comprehend the sheer size and severity of these bushfires, so keep it simple. Answer your younger children’s questions and remind them that they’re safe. Your older children will also have a lot of questions, but will probably need more time to express their emotions.
- Avoid overexposure: you may feel the need to stay up-to-date with every new detail, but your children don’t need to. Be conscious of the information they’re exposed to, and try not to become too absorbed in the news while they’re around.
Provided your kids aren’t feeling overwhelmed by the bushfire emergency, situations like this one can provide a valuable learning opportunity. If you have the time and resources, consider dedicating a few days in the remaining weeks of school holidays to rallying the family and lending a hand.
There are countless ways you and your family can get involved, but we’ve listed our top five so you can make a start.
Create a fundraiser
You don’t need to run a marathon or raise a million dollars to make a difference – sometimes, a humble bake sale can be the perfect fundraiser. Get your kids cooking, crafting or creating something to sell, and be sure to advertise the fact that all of the proceeds will be donated to bushfire relief. Have fun brainstorming an idea, then bond as you bring it to life.
Money can go a long way, but when it comes to getting people the things they need, fast, it may be better to buy those things yourself. There have been countless updates from organisations far and wide requesting specific items, so be sure to check each website, Facebook page or Instagram account for the latest listings before you buy. While getting much-needed items to people and animals in need is a great help, delivering unneeded items is more of a hinderance.
Look to your sporting heroes
Sport-mad families will happily get behind their favourite player or team to raise some coin, and in true Aussie spirit, there are a number of athletes jumping on the bandwagon. Take the Brisbane Heat, for example, who are auctioning off their jerseys and donating the profits to bushfire relief, or Essendon AFL player Dyson Heppell, who’s shaving his signature locks to raise money.
Shop for good
For every sports star raising money, there are even more local and national – and even international – businesses donating a percentage of their profits to bushfire victims. Check out your favourite brands on Instagram to see if they’re joining the movement, then embark on a considered shopping spree for a good cause.
Support the communities
When the bushfires end – and they will end – it may take years for the affected communities to rebuild. Support from out-of-towners will be tantamount to them getting back on their feet. So, whether you plan a family road trip and spend money in local businesses along the way, or shop online through campaigns like #buyfromthebush, spare more than a thought over the coming years for those among us who have lost everything.