While Australians count the cost of the devasting bushfires, there are countless stories of solidarity and hope.

An extreme 2019/2020 Australian bushfire season was forecast by fire and emergency specialists and climate scientists earlier in 2019. Unfortunately, the full magnitude of that prediction has been founded, with unprecedented bushfires having burnt in Eastern, and more recently South-Eastern and Western Australia, since November 2019.

The immediate social and economic costs are starting to be counted, however the longer-term tangible and intangible cost impact to Australia is still impractical to evaluate.  Academics have however estimated the tangible costs to be around AUD100 billion, with intangible costs, such as the costs to society of associated mental health, relationship and drug and alcohol problems which frequently can be associated with major disasters, potentially another AUD100 billion^1.

While the costs continue to be counted the stories of solidarity and support throughout Australia and beyond have provided a glimmer of hope during these incredibly difficult and dangerous times. Below are some highlights from First State Super’s investments as to how they have contributed back to the community during these times:

First State Super sector Bushfire impact summary
  • Both the NSW and Victorian land registry businesses are waiving the search and title reprint fees for people in affected fire areas. This is intended to help those affected complete any rebuilding work, insurance claims etc
  • QIC, whilst suffering no direct damage to assets, has pledged donations of $35,000 to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund and $5,000 to wildlife rescue organisation, WIRES. Additionally, collection points will be established at each of QIC’s shopping centres around Australia and QIC teams are volunteering their time to collect donations for the Red Cross or to volunteer with a community organisation to assist during this crisis, being granted Special Leave to do this. 
  • The Oak Tree Retirement Village in Moss Vale, NSW near the Bundanoon fire, made its community centre and some villas available for families in need of shelter. A number of people were helped by these actions
Private Equity
  • SAX staff have been helping the affected communities in which they operate with free labour and earthmoving equipment
  • The AOC business has been offering pro-bono transport and storage to other affected oyster farmers

As a profit for member super fund we’re not able to make substantial charitable donations directly. However, we are coordinating an organisation-wide response and helping our employees to come together and galvanize their efforts to help the people and communities who have been impacted by the devastating bushfires.

We are contributing our fundraising efforts to Australian Red Cross because it is national in its focus and has the resources and ability to deliver services and support at the grass-roots level. Click here to see what the Red Cross is doing to support communities affected by this summer's bushfires and how donations are helping.

Our initiatives include:

  • First State Super employees are giving generously to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery through fundraising activities and workplace giving programs.
  • We’re reaching out to our employer organisations to align efforts and provide support through volunteering and collecting and distributing donated goods.
  • Providing leave and support services for any of our employees affected by the fires;
  • Providing volunteer leave for any of our employees fighting the fires or supporting clean-up and recovery efforts in bushfire affected communities

We will continue to look at ways we can offer support to our members and employers, their employers and communities who have been affected by the bushfires. If you have ideas on how we can help, please email michael_baldwin@firststatesuper.com.au