Call us on 13 18 12 if you need help with bushfire recovery.
Commonwealth Emergency Relief Funds
The Vinnies Bushfire Appeal was first opened in response to catastrophic bushfires in northern NSW in late September 2019, and later expanded to become a national appeal to support communities affected by the 2019-20 Black Summer Bushfires across Queensland, NSW, the ACT, Victoria and South Australia.
Thanks to generous donations from members of the public, businesses and philanthropists, $25.9 million was raised to support people who suffered devastating damage to their homes and their livelihoods from the fires.
Please note that for NSW, it is likely the donations committed will remain relatively static for reporting purposes until all confirmed spends across the programs are allocated.
Our presence embedded in communities across the fire-devastated areas meant that Vinnies was often the first to render assistance immediately after the destruction.
Many of our volunteer members live and work in the affected communities. They were on the ground to support their neighbours and start providing a hand up to those in need. The generous donations of Vinnies supporters enabled them to play that vital role.
Thanks to the incredible public fundraising effort, our volunteers were able to deliver assistance including:
So far, Vinnies has disbursed more than $24.0 million in Vinnies Bushfire Appeal funds, supporting almost 10,700 households across Queensland, NSW, the ACT, Victoria and South Australia.
In partnership with the Australian Government, we also helped to distribute $1,000 Emergency Relief Fund grants in Queensland, NSW, the ACT and South Australia, ensuring these funds could reach those who needed them most. So far, we have distributed almost 10,700 of these government grants (in addition to the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal funds).
The Sages are a family who had been 'bled dry' by the drought before the bushfires arrived, making matters even worse.
“Where a lot of people including government just leave you to your own devices, so to speak, [Vinnies has] always been making sure we're alright.”
Storm, Al and baby Zeke lost everything when bushfires hit the Northern Tablelands town of Wytaliba (NSW).
“Vinnies has been brilliant. The initial emergency funding came through quickly, and the ongoing support has been so important to helping us get through. The personal support is vital and really appreciated.”
Tinamaria narrowly avoided losing her home in the NSW South Coast bushfires, but the smoke inhalation added to the physical health problems she already experiences. The emotional trauma will stay with her, too.
“You sort of get along just automatically, and then when you start talking about it you notice that it’d affected you more than you know.”
The Tarmac Sawmill, near Rappville in northern NSW, was completed lost in the fires.
“I can walk you around a timber mill and explain exactly what’s going on. But when it comes to going online and filling in forms, I’m totally lost. The fact of the matter is I'm pretty much illiterate. That's why today has been great... these guys [Vinnies] are wonderful.”
On behalf of everyone at Vinnies and those we assist, thank you to the generous donors who supported the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal. We acknowledge all the people and organisations who provided donations both from home and overseas. In particular, we wish to thank our Vincentian brothers and sisters whose emotional and financial support during the peak of the bushfire crisis highlighted the collegiality that has its origins in the good works demonstrated by our founders.
As we move forward towards the recovery journey, Vinnies wants to inform our donors and those we are assisting that our approach to recovering from a natural disaster is a marathon, not a sprint. We are committed to being there beside communities for the duration of that journey, just like we have done in the past. For instance, Vinnies is still supporting people who lived through the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 in Victoria, and more recently the Tathra bushfire of 2018 in NSW. Our role is to support local people to develop their plans to rebuild their houses, their local communities and their towns.
It is important for donors to be confident that every dollar raised to assist those who have been impacted by the bushfires across such a large area of Australia will be spent on those in need.
We have taken no administration fees from donations to the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal (we are very lucky to be able to cover costs through other income sources). All funds donated to the Bushfire Appeal will be spent to help those people and communities affected by the bushfires including direct response already provided and ongoing community rebuilding over the next 12-18 months.
“Our situation is going to go for another 12-24 months, and it’s going to be emotionally and financially challenging. It’s only now that we’re starting to get our feet back on the ground that we can look around and see what we might need.”
Our focus is on developing enduring relationships with people in affected communities – something we are uniquely equipped to do through more than 45,000 volunteers and members who live and work in metropolitan, suburban and regional locations right across the country.
We recognise that no two people’s experience of the bushfires is the same; nor are their future needs likely to be identical.
We aim to be flexible and effective in our recovery response, ensuring that we are giving people and communities the assistance they need rather than deciding what is needed for them.
We plan to conduct a series of community meetings to work together with communities in determining our local and hands-on response. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has delayed these plans, but we are urgently considering contingency methods such as live-streamed, online meetings.
As the coronavirus restrictions begin to ease, our bushfire recovery coordinators are starting to again go out to communities and consult on the local recovery plan – particularly for large-scale rebuilding projects to restore community facilities, farms and businesses.
Importantly, we will continue supporting individuals. Over the coming months, our members will be providing additional one-on-one support and connecting those who are doing it particularly tough with specialised services. We will give particular attention to those dealing with more complex matters in their recovery journey, including those living with a disability, experiencing family violence, addiction, mental health challenges and trauma, and who are at risk of homelessness beyond the temporary dislocation caused by the bushfires.
Community grant application processes have been completed or are underway in NSW, Canberra Goulburn (covering the Far South Coast NSW) and Victoria, making the remaining appeal funds in bushfire-affected locations available for communities to access. A range of projects and activities that provide the most benefit to those in the impacted communities have been supported. Community development officers will also be established in NSW and the Far South Coast. Beyond granting the money, Vinnies will be on-hand to work alongside these communities in bringing their recovery plans to life.
The best way to reach us is to call 13 18 12. We'll put you onto your nearest Vinnies volunteers or staff. We are present in many communities across the country.
All funds raised via the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal are used to support people and communities impacted by the bushfires. So far, your generous donations have provided:
As we move from immediate disaster relief into the recovery and rebuilding phase, your donations will be used to help individuals deal with the long-term impact of the fires. Your funds will be used to help communities rebuild, focusing on projects with a community-wide benefit such as restoring community halls and other shared facilities. You will also be helping farms and local businesses get back on their feet.
Yes. The Vinnies website is a secure platform for making donations using a credit card or PayPal. You can also donate over the phone on 13 18 12.
No. Vinnies does not take any administrative fees from disaster appeal donations. Vinnies uses other income streams and funds to assist in covering our costs when responding to emergencies such as the recent bushfire crisis.
The contributions of our thousands of volunteers are also critical in helping to keep costs down.
Yes – if you give us your mailing address while donating online or over the phone, we will mail you a tax-deductible donation receipt. Otherwise, we can email you a digital receipt.
Yes. Vinnies operates in every state and territory. Each of these organisations is endorsed by the Australian Taxation Office as a deductible gift recipient. This means that donations of $2 and over are tax-deductible. Each Vinnies organisation can issue a tax-deductible receipt. Remember to save your receipt for tax time. The Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission regulates Australia’s charities.
Many of the donations made by the public were distributed immediately and within weeks of the bushfires. Vinnies has already distributed millions of dollars’ worth of assistance. However, the process of assessing people and establishing their needs does take time.
While we understand the community’s expectations that funds are distributed as quickly as possible, it is also very important to ensure that we plan for people’s needs in the months following a crisis where many of the needs are critical. It is crucial that we have funds remaining to help these families and communities to recover and rebuild once they are ready to do so.
Yes. All funds donated to the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal are used to support people affected by bushfires in Queensland, NSW, the ACT, Victoria and SA. Mostly this is in the form of direct cash transfers to their bank accounts. They are then in a position to arrange for repairs, temporary accommodation, or other necessities during the bushfire crisis.
No. Every dollar donated to the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal is being spent on the summer 2019-20 bushfire crisis, here in Australia (specifically, in Queensland, NSW, the ACT, Victoria and SA). We are not saving your donations for future emergencies or any other good works.
The best way to support people affected by the bushfires is to make a financial donation.
Transporting material goods to emergency zones comes at a cost. Wherever possible, purchasing items locally in an affected area is a much better option, as it supports the local economy and small businesses.