After the bushfires in Australia: PBV’s support to First Nations communities

Jul 10, 2020

In late 2019, bushfires in Australia escalated into an unprecedented scale. As covered in the media, the fires burnt down massive areas of the states of New South Wales, Victoria and other areas in the continent, resulting in loss of lives of residents and fire-fighting volunteers, as well as enormous damage to fauna, flora, and personal and community properties. Peace Boat Disaster Relief (PBV) put out a call for donations to respond to these deadly bushfires in Australia.

Donations raised across Japan

In the four months from January until the end of April, more than 100 individuals, schools, companies and other organizations in Japan and overseas responded to our call by providing generous contributions. Considering the scale of the damage, donations were sought both from within Japan and also onboard the 103rd Voyage, which was sailing around the Asia Pacific region including several cities throughout Australia between December 2019 and February 2020. Donations were made not only by passengers, but also by onboard guest educators.

Why Support First Nations Communities?

Peace Boat has been working with First Nations communities in Australia for decades, through inviting guest speakers from the communities to share their experiences, co-organising exchange programs in their communities on land and organizing onboard gatherings and conferences for representatives from indigenous communities in the Asia Pacific region. Through these programs, we have learned about the challenges and vulnerability of communities in Australia today, as well as their deep connection with ancestral homeland and nature. When we first heard of the news of the bushfires, we contacted partners in Australia and learned that indigenous communities had been severely affected and were in great need of help for evacuation, relocation, and housing reconstruction.

How your donations help

Due to the travel restrictions in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, PBV’s support to the First Nations communities has been contributed via the Fire Relief Fund for First Nations Communities, which was founded to support individuals and organizations in indigenous communities in the affected regions, and facilitated by the Australian Communities Foundation which supports the fund’s administration process. Meanwhile, we have received a progress report on the redistribution of the funds with details of the beneficiaries. These funds have supported many indigenous people in affected communities with the means to get back on their feet.

Read the full report here.