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Bushfire response

Find out how Deloitte is making a difference

We recognise the significance of the extreme recent bushfire season of 2019-2020, and its lasting impact on Australia’s people, wildlife and economy. We’re proud to support community-led recovery and are harnessing the best of our people’s skills to work closely with communities and local, state and national government to make an impact that matters.

Bushfire support finder

Deloitte’s Bushfire Support Finder is designed to help you identify and understand grants and other assistance opportunities available to you, your business and your community.

Stories from the frontline

Often terrible times result in an even stronger sense of community. We have seen communities, governments, corporates and the general public come together to begin the journey towards recovery. The stories below highlight some of the work happening across Australia in response to the fires.

    Pete Williams’s mantra is simple: If you don’t know what to do, do something. Own your outcomes and you can do amazing things.

    It’s not only a view he brings to work as Chief Edge Officer at Deloitte Australia’s Centre for the Edge but in his personal life too. In 2009, he watched as family members lost everything in the Black Saturday bushfires, compelling him to spend two years working with the Flowerdale Recovery Committee to help rebuild the town.

    As tragedy struck again in 2020, Pete and the team from Flowerdale once again sprang into action to help bush-fire affected areas. After making contact with community leaders in both Upper Murray and East Gippsland, he made a five-day trip to see what was happening on the ground and what help was needed.

    “We had so much help from others after Black Saturday, we made the commitment in Flowerdale that we would ‘pay it forward’,” Pete says.  “Just turning up with my Flowerdale T-shirt on and sharing our experience has been a really big help to people. It has also identified a range of projects that we can support, and we are now making things happen.” 

    Those projects include development of a bushfire grant tool, which will make it easier for those affected to understand and access available support.

    “In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Deloitte created the Stimulus and Support Finder to make it easier to navigate the measures released by the government to support businesses,” Pete explains. “Feedback from bushfire-affected communities has told us that implementing a similar solution for them would be of huge value”.

    Learn more here

    At the height of the Australian bushfires, it was the scenes from Mallacoota – of apocalyptic red skies and families huddled on the beach – that awoke the world to the unfolding devastation. Now, as the small Victorian town faces the enormous task of rebuilding, mental health charity Waves of Wellness (WOW) Foundation is lending its support to help Mallacoota reclaim the beach.

    The foundation uses surfing as a form of therapy and delivers innovative support programs for people experiencing mental health challenges. As Chair of the foundation, Adam Barringer, a Partner at Deloitte Australia is leading the charity’s response.

    “The New Year’s bushfires claimed nearly 200 homes and wiped out much of the local infrastructure of Mallacoota,” Adam says. “As a close-knit surfing community, they reached out for help in raising awareness, funds and in dealing with the huge mental health impact of the fires, which literally pushed the residents onto the beach to await evacuation.”

    In February, an expert WOW team and volunteers ran a five-day intensive response program to manage the ongoing impacts of trauma in the community. They provided training to upskill local community champions and provide better links to local healthcare providers. As part of its #shedsforsleds initiative, encouraging donations of surf gear, WOW also took more than 50 refurbished surfboards and other equipment to get the community back into the water.

    Natasha Smale, a Director at Deloitte Australia, was so inspired by the work of Adam and WOW that she took on the role of CFO in her spare time. 

    “We were very excited about this initiative and are hoping it will make a significant impact,” she says. “Should this intervention be successful, we aim to roll out similar programs to other bushfire-affected areas.” 

    To read more, visit WOW.

    Through Australia’s horrific bushfires, what has been clear is the extraordinary response from volunteer firefighters and emergency services personnel. Shehara Wijayapala, a Senior Manager at Deloitte Australia, is part of the ACT State Emergency Service. During the 2019/20 bushfire crisis, Shehara supported the response efforts in NSW and ACT, including the Orroral Valley fire.

    "Unfortunately bushfire season also means storm season, with many members of the community requesting assistance,” Shehara says. “Through the bushfires, I worked night shifts to provide Incident Management Team functions in the Emergency Control Centre. I also volunteered in transport and staging areas for the Rural Fire Service (RFS) via SES Operational Command Vehicles, to ensure firefighters on the ground were getting the support they needed to do their job.

    “I’m grateful for how much support Deloitte and The Deloitte Foundation provided in enabling our people to assist, and the continuing support in providing pro bono services to allow the sustainable recovery efforts of community organisations.”

    For more information or to support your local brigade, contact the NSW RFS.

    Many of us watched in horror as the bushfires wreaked a terrible toll on Australia’s native animals. Estimates suggest around 1.25 billion animal have been lost, with fears for the future of many species.

    Steph Lamont-Friedrich, a Graduate at Deloitte Australia, has been volunteering to help more than 100 injured and orphaned koalas through the crisis, working in a makeshift koala hospital in the quiet suburbs of Adelaide. She’s also volunteered her time with Adelaide Bat Chat, a local not-for-profit group.

    “It’s South Australia’s only flying fox rescue group, with over 400 rescued and orphaned bats, operating out of a home in Wynn Vale, Adelaide,” Steph says. “They eat over 150kg of fruit a day, so public donations are absolutely critical!
    “Bats are a vulnerable species, and sadly over 12,000 of South Australia’s 15,000 bats died in the December heatwaves.”

    Bats, like bees, are key pollinators. They are essential to the regeneration of burned bushland and, therefore, the survival of other native species.
    These photos show bats rescued in December 2019, now living in the shelter at Wynn Vale.

    To read more or find out how you can help, visit Adelaide Bat Chat

    Financial crime is a threat facing all businesses – but for non-profit organisations, the risks amplify during times of crisis. Oliver May, a Director at Deloitte Australia, has written several books and a regular blog on tackling fraud and says the recent bushfires have highlighted this ongoing issue.

    “Fraud, theft and corruption affect us all, but there are some unique vulnerabilities for non-profit organisations,” Oliver says.

    “I used to work for an international aid agency and crises like the bushfires happen all year, all over the world, affecting millions of people. But there are always some people who take advantage of the non-profit organisations that rush to help. I’m passionate about helping these organisations shore up their vulnerabilities and make the most of their funds.”

    Oliver says there are practical steps that businesses can take ahead of time to address areas of exposure and ensure resources are directed where they can have the most impact.

    “Prevention is better than a cure and when we’re more aware of what can go wrong, there’s less chance that it will. We’re stronger,” he says.

    “I hope through greater awareness of the threat bushfires pose to our communities, we can not only awaken the best of Australia to help them, but also reignite Australia’s passion for helping those affected by other disasters too – including beyond our borders.”