In NSW, Australia, there are 136 fires which continue to burn. 69 are out of control whilst a further 39 fires are burning in neighbouring Victoria. More than 26 people have died with more missing whilst more than 400 million animals are believed to have perished in the fires.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on January 6, 2020

Comedian, actress and writer Celeste Barber, who has 6.5 million followers on Instagram who love her recreating photos of famous women as herself on Instagram, has raised more than A$33 million in 72 hours to go towards fighting the fires engulfing the Australian state of New South Wales.

An area of 12 million hectares in Australia – the size of the entire country of Belgium – has now been burnt and in NSW there are 136 fires which continue to burn, with 69 out of control, as of writing. There are 39 fires still burning in the neighbouring state of Victoria and the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) states there are more than 1,600 confirmed property losses in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland with more property losses certain as people are unable to go back to their homes. More than 26 people have died with more missing and more than 400 million animals are believed to have been killed by fires.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned NSW faced a “very volatile situation” and that “we are yet to hit the worst of it”. The state’s transport minister, Andrew Constance, defending his own home against ember attack, told the national broadcaster “this isn’t a bushfire, it’s an atomic bomb”.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison today committed an additional A$2 billion over two years to a new agency tasked with rebuilding bushfire-ravaged towns.

“The $2 billion commitment is an additional cost, an initial commitment, and if further funds are required, further funds will be provided,” Morrison said.

Only the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires and 2009’s Black Friday inferno destroyed more homes than the blazes currently tearing through the country.

celeste barber,  fires, australia

Celeste Barber, fires, australia

Celeste Barber, who has family living in one of the towns hit by the fires, has been providing regular updates about the devastating fires on Instagram. Her father-in-law was evacuated on Saturday.

Barber’s fundraising appeal “this is terrifying” has been shared by other celebrities, including the actor Natalie Portman and the singer Lizzo. Lizzo used her Instagram stories to encourage her followers to donate to environmental organisations working to save koala populations.

Barber played paramedic Bree Mathews in Australian TV drama series All Saints, Megan in Home and Away, a celebrant in another Australian TV drama Wonderland and as Barbara in TV series The Letdown.

Married with one child, the 37-year-old performed sold out shows for the Sydney Comedy and Fringe Festival in 2015. She has written the book Challenge Accepted.

Australian actor and producer Nicole Kidman and her husband, musician Keith Urban,made a mouth-watering donation.

The women’s world No 1 tennis player, Ash Barty, pledged on Sunday to donate all of her Brisbane International prize money to the bushfire appeal. She is the top seed in the Brisbane event, which started today, with the winner taking home US$250,000 (A$360,000).

Barty donated more than A$30,000 late last year to the RSPCA to help wildlife affected by the fires.

Barty’s offer follows the lead of fellow Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios pledging A$200 for each ace he served across the Australian summer of tennis. Fellow Australian players Alex de Minaur, John Millman, Dylan Alcott and Samantha Stosur also vowed to donate money from their aces.

Kyrgios’s social media call for a fundraiser resulted in Tennis Australia announcing a Rally for Relief exhibition match on Rod Laver Arena on 15 January, which is set to feature some of the world’s top players.

Tennis Australia said also that it will send $100 to the Australian Red Cross for every ace served during the 10-day ATP Cup, with the final figure expected to surpass A$150,000.

Five-time grand slam champion Maria Sharapova called on 16 Grand Slam singles title winner Novak Djokovic to match her donation of A$25,000.

Australian rugby union player Nathan Sharpe echoed the feeling among Australians to try and help those caught up in the fires besetting the country.

On Saturday the American singer Pink, who has a loyal following in Australia, pledged A$500,000 to Australian fire services and called on her followers to help by making a donation.

English Premier League star Matt Ryan, the goalkeeper for Brighton and Hove Albion, backed Australia’s players body for the PFA’s call for A$1,000 to be donated to bushfire appeals for every goal scored in the A-League and W-League at the weekend.

There are numerous ways people can help those affected by the fires, predominately by donating to relevant organisations so they can use the money as needed.

Donate to the firefighters

The men and women on the frontlines of the fires are predominantly volunteers taking time out from their daily jobs to protect other people’s lives.

Both NSW Rural Fire Services and Victoria’s Country Fire Authority have been calling for more donations to help cover the firefighters’ expenses.

Donate to the Red Cross

The Red Cross and its team of 1,480 volunteers is currently operating evacuation centres and recovery hubs around the country.

The organisation also plans to provide cash grants to victims from 6 January.

Donate to the RSPCA

More than 400 million animals are believed to have been killed by fires.

The RSPCA has called for cash donations to help evacuate and triage wildlife and domestic animals and provide pet needs.

Read next: Animal hospital’s GoFundMe campaign for A$25,000 raises A$1.9 million