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  • Woke editors

Australia's Invisible Heroes

Updated: Dec 18, 2019

By Luiza Knijnik

For over a month now we have seen our country burning. We have seen lives destroyed, beautiful forests burnt to the ground and precious wildlife killed. We choke on the smoke every single day and hope that it will fade. Over the course of this we have cheered and admired the firefighters and raised our voices to demand the government take action on climate change.

And yet….

We have failed to acknowledge and celebrate the invisible army who have been rebuilding our country. The thousands of Australians each day joining Facebook groups to sew pouches for our wildlife, or anxiously trying to find somewhere to donate supplies. The ordinary folk giving up hours of their time to transport and deliver donated supplies and goods. We have forgotten to celebrate ourselves. This article is devoted to the unsung heroes of Australian, those with the true Aussie spirit.

Image by Gerd Altmann

Over the past month, countless of our precious animals have been killed due to the fires. Tens of thousands have been injured, lost their natural habitats or become orphans. Seeing the photos of burnt koalas makes a lump form in your throat. When you see the rest of the animals: the joeys, the possums, the bats, the birds, the bilbies it is heartbreaking. You can’t help but cry in despair at what is happening.

However, in despair there is hope.

Tens of thousands of Australians and people from across the world have come together to look after all the animals that have been rescued. And everyone is doing their bit. There are the small acts of kindness of donating money and supplies to animal rescue foundations or wildlife care centres that are making all the difference in the world. In fact there has been an overwhelming response to the calls with examples like the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital which reached $2 million donated in their GoFundMe page. Donations have made the difference between life and death to these animals. If you are reading this article and have donated either money or supplies to any animal wildlife care centre or group, thank you! You have saved lives. You are true everyday heroes. To the coordinators of these efforts and the people behind the foundations, the animals cannot express their gratitude. We cannot express our gratitude.

Orphan baby bats in cozy bat wraps

As Nicole the founder of the Rescue Collective posted after she received thousands of donations in response to her call asking for medication, food and equipment for the wildlife injured for the recent bushfires:

“WHOLEY BATMAN YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING! WE ARE ALREADY ALMOST FULL IN MANY LOCATIONS. So I’m sitting here, on my floor, bawling my eyes out at the sheer kindness and generosity flooding in for the animals.”

Instructions on how to make a pouch

Then there are our sewers, who sew pouches, mittens, blankets etc. for the injured wildlife. . These are true heroes, who are ordinary people like you and me. They’re all around us, in our homes, the person next to you on the train, in nursing homes, in your street, suburb or city. People who have never sewn before are buying sewing machines just to help out. Just to give you a glimpse of the enormity of the project, there are just under 18,000 members on the Animal Rescue Crafts Guild on Facebook. The Animal Rescue Crafts Guild coordinates, instructs how to make the pouches for the specific species and facilitates the transportation of these pouches and wraps. People are sewing like mad. As Kathleen Black, a member of the Animal Rescue Crafts Guild says “I have watched as people from all over the country, and the world, offer to make specialised items for our beloved wild animals who have suffered so much. The humbleness that has shone through is heartwarming.”

Mrs Leadbetter and Miss O'Relly from Caringbah High School

At Caringbah High School, Miss O’Relly and Mrs Leadbetter from Technology and Applied Studies have taken it upon themselves to contribute as well. They have worked tirelessly on top of marking, teaching (sometimes bratty teenagers) to sew over seventy pouches with lining for the rescued wildlife. They sewed pouches for koalas, possums, bats and joeys!

I can’t even begin to mention the thousands of people who have volunteered to transport supplies, the hundreds who have offered to host supplies in their own homes and the many more who are looking after the wildlife.

This article hasn’t even talked about the thousands more doing something to rebuild destroyed communities. To help the humans. A whole other article is needed for them. To them I say thank you as well. Every community affected by the fire and beginning the long and arduous process of rebuild has a whole army behind them. Many communities across Australia who were not affected have organised to help raise money and get supplies to the people who were directly impacted.

Examples of this include Caringbah High School, led by Marina Knijnik and the SRC have raised over $5,000 to give to the two primary schools destroyed in the fires. Online activism and promotion has given light to several GoFundMe pages to raise money for the devastated communities: Wytaliba Community Bushfire Devastation page has had over $63,000 raised, others like MidCoast Bushfire relief has had nearly $85,000. Drop off centres in many communities have also been established to organise supplies that is needed in the towns. To put it simply, everyone is doing their bit.

To every grandpa and grandmother, to every young person, to every mum and dad, sisters and brothers, little kids, we say thank you. We say thank you to every unsung hero. To anyone who's done anything, no matter how small, thank you.

In times like this we see the true Aussie spirit.

One of kindness. Of courage. Of determination. One of love.

So here is to the ordinary folks of Australia.

They are the invisible heroes.

They are the true leaders and back-bones of our country.

As Mrs King, the wife of a firefighters who wrote an emotionally charged letter to Mr Morrison says:

“Volunteers are the kind of people that keep pushing themselves beyond the point where their bodies tell them to stop. They do it because they are deeply committed to making a difference.

Cheers mate,


If you wish to join any of the Facebook groups to help our wildlife;

Animal Rescue Collective-

P.S. - There are dozens of schools, organisations, carers, rescue centres, vets and individuals helping during this time. We can't name all but we'd like to acknowledge and thank them so much for what they are doing.

P.S. 2 - We would also like to thank everyone from overseas that have supported us in this time of crisis.


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