January Is Ending, But The Bushfire Crisis Burns On

31 January 2020

It’s been a challenging start to 2020, with relentless bushfire danger tormenting many Australian communities right through January.

Vinnies has been there for those communities – we were one of the first organisations on the ground when bushfires first broke out in September 2019, and we will continue to support those affected well beyond the end of this traumatic summer.

We are working hard to distribute every dollar donated to the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal to those who need it most. We are not taking administration fees, and we are not diverting any funds for future emergencies.

Vinnies has now given out more than $3.1 million in urgent, direct cash payments for people and families impacted by the fires. This figure doesn’t include the huge amount of food, water, clothing, toiletries, bedding, and other essential items that we’ve provided from our local Conferences and Vinnies Shops, and which have also made an incredible difference for those who’ve lost everything.

We are also ensuring government funds get out quickly to those in need – Vinnies NSW has distributed $386,000 in Commonwealth Government Emergency Relief Fund grants so far, and Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn has given out $228,600.

As January comes to an end, we want to introduce you to a few of the people we’ve worked with this month:

Stories from the ground

Col Billett

Bushfires have devastated Ulladulla since the beginning of December. In addition to destroying more than 350 houses in the Shoalhaven region, flames have engulfed areas to the south in Batemans Bay, to the north in Kangaroo Valley, and to the west in Braidwood, resulting in over 313,000 hectares of burnt-out land.

After weeks of helping at the Ulladulla Evacuation Centre, local Vinnies member Col Billett is now leading a team of volunteers at the Ulladulla Recovery Centre. In just the first week the centre was up and running, Col’s team met with around 25 families each day and approved almost $250,000 in vital relief payments for them.

“Prior to being officially involved in the evacuation centre, we’d already provided clothing, toiletries, food and stuff like that to people who had been sent over from the centre to Vinnies to help out,” explains Col.

“It’s going to take a long, long time for a lot of people to ever recover to what they would consider normality.”


Leo is one of hundreds of people who suffered damage to their homes when fires swept the NSW South Coast.

Like many of the self-sufficient regional Australians hit by bushfires, Leo was hesitant to ask for help - but glad when he did. Our local Vinnies volunteer members have set him up with an emergency payment to keep his head above water, and are also helping him to get settled in temporary accommodation by teeing up with Bunnings to help move in his new fridge.



If you’ve been affected by bushfires, we can help

If you’re doing it tough due to the bushfires, please come to us – we are here for you. Call 13 18 12 for assistance, or fill out our online form so we can call you.

Donations are still urgently needed

To donate to the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal, call 13 18 12, visit www.bushfireappeal.com.au or give in-store at any Vinnies Shop.