What to do while our leaders do nothing

When is the time to argue policy, and when is the time for action?

You have a group of 23 former fire and emergency chiefs who have varying political views and backgrounds, they live in various areas, not all in the city, and they’ve all come together because they are vitally concerned for the future of our planet, and of Australia, and of communities that are increasingly under threat from extreme weather events caused by climate change.

If it is not time now to speak about climate change and what is driving these events, when?

Greg Mullins, Retired Fire Chief (Source)
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Politicians from across the spectrum are engaged in finger pointing and blame games. Meanwhile fires continue to burn up and down the East coast of Australia, thanks to unprecedented conditions caused by the ongoing drought.

And at the heart of the drought lies climate change.

The argument many are using right now is that this isn’t the time to be having conversations about policy and climate change. Instead, we should focus on the needs of firefighters, volunteers and communities affected by the large-scale destruction. In fairness, it’s easy to see how it would be considered tone deaf, or at least lacking in empathy, to talk about conditions that created this situation when people dealing with the immediate results.

Surely we can’t be having a debate about whose fault all of this is in the middle of a crisis. We’ve got people out there risking their lives to help others. We have people who have their lives threatened by the situation in their homes or in their communities, and the last thing we need is politicians playing a blame game.

Joel Fitzgibbon, on 2NM (AM981 Hunter Valley Radio)

But if now is not the right time to be having these conversations – what is it time for?

With the major parties testing or challenging the efficacy of thoughts and prayers vs flames, local leaders, scientists and firefighting experts all point to the pressing need of resources in addressing the active blazes as well as long-term community preparation for the new normal of a fire-prone landscape.

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So with no leadership from the Canberra bubble, or their state counterparts, who is best positioned to fill the void left by an absence of policy and political will?

As with the leadership shown by many organisations during the recent climate strikes – such as through the Not Business As Usual campaign – private enterprise can use this as an opportunity to connect flowery brand vision statements with real life activity and investment by donating directly to affected regions and communities. Putting their money where their mouth is.

Businesses will be increasingly required to play a leading role in solving society’s biggest problems in the absence of long-term political planning and a growing trend towards populist, short-term policy platforms. This is a powerful moment for the best and brightest in the private sector to put the resources at their disposal towards the collective good.

And reports show when those who need it most are given a leg up the benefits flow to all levels of society.

“Already many of our partners have indicated that they too are exploring options in opportunities to donate financially or with relevant and necessary products and services to support those in immediate need.”

The Conscience Organisation will be donating 10% of our revenue throughout November and December to support our incredible Rural Fire Services and the tireless support they provide to communities around Australia.

Clive Burcham, Founder & CEO

For decision-makers in businesses: now is the time for you to connect the dots between brand statements, CSR and having genuine social impact.

For employees: there are still ways for you to encourage and accelerate a response from your workplace. From discussions around ongoing workplace engagement, to requests for matching donations or simply having a conversation with your boss… any of these actions can create results.

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Where to donate?

NSW Rural Fire Service

Donations made directly to the NSW RFS are for the benefit of volunteer brigades and help tremendously. To donate deposit funds directly to:

BSB: 032-001
Account No: 171051

To request a receipt please email your name, date of deposit, amount and address to dgr@rfs.nsw.gov.au. All donations over $2 are tax deductible.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army have setup a Disaster Appeal which will involve their teams will provide meals and support to evacuees and frontline responders as well as communities affected.

https://www.salvationarmy.org.au/donate/make-a-donation/donate-online/?appeal=disasterappeal

The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

They have set up a GoFundMe Page to develop and build watering stations for thirsty Koalas that have been displaced as a result of the fires.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-thirsty-koalas-devastated-by-recent-fires

Red Cross

The Red Cross says their specialist emergency volunteers are providing psychological first aid, working at evacuation centres and helping people get in touch with loved ones.

https://www.redcross.org.au/campaigns/disaster-relief-and-recovery-bushfires

Vinnies

Vinnies have setup a NSW bushfire appeal to help those affected with food, clothing and funds to pay bills.

https://donate.vinnies.org.au/appeals-nsw/vinnies-nsw-bushfire-appeal-nsw

WIRES

WIRES is accepting donations to help their efforts in rescuing displaced and injured wildlife affected by the NSW fires. 

https://www.wires.org.au/donate/emergency-fund