Australia’s Youth on the Fires

Leanna Bobadilla, Photographer

Australia’s wildfires have always been an issue that the continent has dealt with. From August 2019 to now they have been having the worst fires since 2009 according to Newsweek.com. Over 17.9 million acres of land have been burnt and 124 people’s lives have been taken. 480 million animals have also been lost to the fire.

 

South Australia has a small area of fires while areas on the east coast of South New Wales are full of them. Some people have lost their homes and many areas have smoke-filled air to the point where it’s toxic. The closer a person is to the east coast of Australia, the more likely they are to be faced with the country’s ongoing problem. 

 

Hannah Vaughen, a 15-year-old resident in South New Wales, Australia, gave insight into how her life has been affected by the fires.

 

Vaughen says that “Honestly everything is basically the same for me since my area has no fires, but in the east ends of my state and in other areas directly affected by the fires I imagine it’s completely turned their world upside down. The only real thing is we can’t go outside when the smoke is really bad.”

 

The fires have gotten to the extent where army reserve troops have been called to assist the recovery efforts, although they’re largely made up of volunteers. 

 

“I heard about countries sending in firefighters to help us and it brought me to tears” Vaughen commented. “ Like all my life, I’ve looked at other things happening in the world, but I don’t know the world has just never paid much attention to Australia I think? I think more awareness should be broadcasted in other countries ‘cause we are quite literally on fire and families and lives are getting torn apart and people are dying and stranded.”

 

Australia’s government has created a new National Bushfire Recovery Agency to help fund fire reliefs and authorized payments to the volunteer firefighters, some of which have been helping for months now and not going to their jobs. Although, Australia’s elected leaders have been reluctant to face the country’s contribution to climate change, a major factor in the bushfires. 

 

“It’s honestly just awful, and I think our politicians and PM (Prime Minister) aren’t doing enough to actually acknowledge that we’re on fire, and NSW (New South Wales) has been on fire since August” Vaughen said. “Like our PM went on holiday to Hawaii, like sis why. They also won’t acknowledge that this could possibly be a side effect of global warming.”

 

When asked how she felt about the government’s actions towards the fires, 13-year-old South New Wales resident Maryam Sebtawi, gave her opinion on the subject. 

 

“I think I have to say that Scomo, our government, is really cowardly for going on a vacation when the fires were getting really bad,” Sebtawi says. “He’s honestly so stupid and I know I wouldn’t shake his hand either when he comes back, acting as if he didn’t leave the country and leave the fires getting bigger – so big that they destroyed homes and took away lives.”

 

Even though many people feel that there’s nothing they can do to help Australians and their wildlife, the truth is contrary to that. This is what Vaughen had to say to everyone. 

 

“I think the best thing people can do is just raise awareness and actually talk about the whole ideal. There’s places to donate if you’re able to. But for the people who can’t, just simply spreading facts and the word that we need support and are struggling will encourage people who do have the resources to help, to actually step in and provide.”

 

Australia’s fires have been raging for 5 months now with damage to both residents and wildlife. Raising awareness and donating money, no matter what amount, helps go towards stopping the fires. 

 

https://www.newsweek.com/australia-wildfires-arson-new-south-wales-police-1480733

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/australia-fires-over-1-billion-animals-feared-dead/ 

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2020/1/8/21055228/australia-fires-map-animals-koalas-wildlife-smoke-donate