As we approach some light at the end of what has been a challenging year, it is that time of year to reflect and be truly thankful. We made it and the message from the community, media and retailers is clear – let us maximise Christmas this year.
I don’t need to go into detail about 2020 and the difficulties it continues to bring, however one thing is for certain, we have witnessed just how fragile the world is and how it can fall apart quite quickly be it socially, economically and environmentally.
At the heart of this was the pandemic and while in Australia, many of us are fortunate to celebrate the holiday season with minimal COVID-19 restrictions, some of our local areas and many places around the world continue to battle.
However, this post is not designed to be gloomy, but instead to acknowledge that all is not well and celebratory this holiday season but supporting and appreciating our loved ones absolutely is.
Now you might think of your loved ones as your family, your friends, your pets and for many of us, this extends to causes we love – helping with food scarcity, supporting the environment or animal welfare.
Many of us don’t really “need” anything for Christmas so you might like to substitute one of your traditional gifts this year and give a monetary donation or your time for a cause you believe in.
2020 saw me launch my podcast, PROTECT where I was fortunate to speak to many NGO founders, charitable citizens and volunteers about their valuable projects from saving orangutans to cleaning oceans. I was truly humbled by the people I spoke to and their daily efforts of contribution. However, one challenge many of them shared related to fundraising which declined due to the pandemic. This type of support is essential for many of these groups to continue the amazing work that they do.
So today, I’ve put together a little list of causes that you may like to consider giving to. These causes are related to some critical areas within the current climate and they are also close to my heart. While some of the organisations listed were interviewed for PROTECT and were generous enough to give their time to the podcast, this is a non sponsored post.
And from experience, any giving brings just as much happiness to you as it does to the people on the receiving end. So if any of the below speak to you, I hope you might consider a gift of your very own.
As its name suggests, this cause is working to ensure the survival of all orangutan species in their natural habitat. They also have an arm of related projects to extensive rainforest protection, helping build the economy of the local communities along with the International Tiger and Elephant projects.
You can help by adopting an orangutan, or specifically contribute to their food, schooling or swing lines. You can even buy a few hectares of rainforest area to protect, which you can watch online or donate any amount of your choice. The project also have some remote volunteer positions available at the moment if you’d like to offer your time.
Voiceless animal protection agency work tirelessly to empower and mainstream the animal protection movement; shine a spotlight on cruel industry practices; advance legal protection for animals; raise public awareness and; increase animal protection in science and technology.
In addition, they run some wonderful academic programs to help provide education and support to students engaging with lawyers for animal protection and understanding the importance of the human-animal relationship in society. Voiceless also offer volunteer positions through the Animal Law Education Program and have an internship program in their Paddington office. These positions are currently on hold due to COVID-19 but details are here where you can put yourself on the waiting list.
You can also check their Donor Charter for details on where your donation goes and help speak up for animals who truly need our voice.
HSI is the largest international charity working for a more humane and sustainable world for animals. They work to save endangered species and their habitats whilst reducing cruelty in farming, trade and other industries.
One of their major projects is in protecting animals during natural disasters. Australia was shaken by the Black Summer fires last season and HSI have been working on disaster recovery and preparation for what could be another unfortunate fire season and for the growing number of natural disasters that continue to unfold globally.
You can donate a chosen amount to to this cause or choose to protect your favourite animal.
ZAMBI is a resort sort style retirement retreat for animals that have retired from the circus, entertainment industry, zoo breeding programs and private ownership. While their focus is on exotic animals (mainly big cats) they also offer shelter to domestic, farm and native wildlife needing a forever home.
They’re also currently building a world class Australian Native Rehabilitation Facility to help more animals in need. There are lots of opporuntities to help make an impact at ZAMBI with donations, membership committees or volunteering your time whether you’re a skilled tradesperson or marketer, You can apply here.
ASRC are Australia’s largest human rights organisation providing support to people seeking asylum. They have over 40 holistic programs from food and material support, legal aid and healthcare to name a few that work to empower and support people seeking asylum to maximise their own physical, mental and social well being.
Recently in Melbourne, Australia we’ve had a terrible situation unfolding that has seen 60 men who are refugees and asylum seekers who have been trying to secure a home for more than eight years and have just been moved to yet another hotel for detainment. If you’re in Melbourne, ASRC are doing contactless food drives or you can provide a donation, gift card or order some supplies directly through Coles Online. You can find more detail here.
Safe Steps is a local charity providing specialist support services for anyone in Victoria who is experiencing or afraid of family violence. They offer a multiude of services from information and referral, crisis response and accommodation along with safety planning.
A recent and confronting article in The Guardian detailed that domestic violence has increased during the pandemic. “2020 will be remembered as the worst year for domestic violence that any of us who are in the sector now have ever experienced,” said Hayley Foster, chief executive of Women’s Safety, New South Wales.
“There [have been just so many more strangulation cases, so many threats to kill, so many more serious head injuries, and sexual assaults [have been] going through the roof,” she says.
In July, a survey by the Australian Institute of Criminology revealed almost 10% of Australian women in a relationship had experienced domestic violence during the coronavirus crisis.
So if you can lend a monetary donation to Safe Steps you can do so here or if you’re experiencing domestic violence and need to speak to someone, please reach out to 1800RESPECT who have a 24/7 phone line.
This is Australia’s only national charity dedicated solely to protecting our precious ocean wildlife and work with government and the community to champion these projects.
They have a host of initiatives they’re advocating for from shark protection, working to ban whaling, protecting the Great Barrier Reef to a host of support for climate change initiatives including cutting plastic pollution. Our oceans certainly need us.
You can read all out their current projects and landmark wins here and donate to a specific campaign or even help fundraise. If you’re a shark fan (like myself) you can also sign up to be a Shark Champion where you can stay up to date on this space and sign some petitions to help with shark conservation.
Finally, an organisation very aligned with Australian beach culture, is the Surfrider Foundation Australia which is a registered not for profit sea-roots organisation dedicated to the protection of Australia’s waves and beaches through conservation, activism, research and education.
They’re working to build an engaged surfing and coastal community who are passionate about protecting oceans, waves and beaches. Their projects vary from opposing corporations drilling for oil and gas or from putting industrial fish farms off beach breaks to lobbying against developments and policies that threaten Australian beaches. There are lots of ways to help through donation, volunteering or via membership.
Thank you for reading to the end of this article. I hope one of the organisations above may inspire you to give this Christmas and on that note, thank you for your support and wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and happy start to 2021!