Australia has been ravaged by severe bushfires since the summer of 2019. The fires have swept across the country destroying almost anything in their path. The scenes have been described as “apocalyptic”. Entire species of animals may have been wiped from the face of this earth.
Since September, the fires have killed at least 28 people, including three firefighters and have left entire towns in ruins. Almost 2,000 homes have been destroyed. Nearly 15 million acres of land have been burnt. One study estimated that over 1.25 billion animals have been killed! This devastating figure only includes mammals, birds and reptiles and does not consider insects, bats or frogs. Even then, it is just a rough estimate and the actual figures could be considerably higher. We won’t know the true cost of the fires until they come to an end and in large parts of the country such as New South Wales and Victoria where they are still raging!
Australia is no stranger to bushfires, as it is a widespread and regular occurrence that has contributed significantly to moulding the nature of the continent over millions of years. Bushfires have killed approximately 800 people in Australia since 1851 and billions of animals. Previous Bushfires include ‘The Ash Wednesday Fires’ in 1983 which killed 75 people, ‘The Black Friday fires’ in 1939 which killed 71 people and ‘The Black Saturday fires’ in 2009 which killed 173 people. It is the sheer ferocity and scale of these recent fires that have captured the attention of the whole world.
With all this in mind, our class was inspired to pick The Australian Bushfires as the focus of our form assembly. We felt that it was important to raise awareness of the facts associated with the crisis as many of our peers may have seen the images but would not know the facts.
It is such a vast topic that we decided to split into groups, with each group focusing on one aspect of the bushfires. One of the groups investigated the effects and consequences of the fire; not just the impact on the animals but also the economic implications. Another group discussed how climate change was linked to the bushfires, as much debate has arisen as to whether a heating climate is to blame for the severity of the fires. My group was asked to give an overview of the whole situation and to talk about some things Australia is well known for, such as the famous actors Liam and Chris Hemsworth and one of the world’s most famous wildlife experts, Steve Irwin. This provided some context to the whole assembly.
Finally, the last group was given the task to announce the planned Australia Day to the school. We had organised Australia Day to be on the last day of half-term on which everyone would give £2 to wear a green or yellow item of clothing or an Australia themed costume. Both Staff and students made an amazing effort and we even had someone rocking a kangaroo onesie! There were some delicious themed desserts created by our lovely chefs for lunch and Mrs Ramos even tried to make a didgeridoo in Music!
The day was a great success, raising about £200 for the World Wildlife Fund to help protect animals affected by the fires and rehome them. Thanks to our form teacher Mrs Davies for helping us to organise our presentation and helping Ffynone become an official WWF Koala Protector! It felt incredibly worthwhile to not only help our peers understand the crisis in Australia but also to try and be a tiny part of the solution by raising money.