2019-2020 Australian bushfire crisis

Co-op activities to support impacted communities

Australian Mutuals Foundation ran an Australian Bushfire Campaign with funds going to Vinnies.

CUA has donated $150,000 to rural fire services.

NRMA encouraged members to donate to the NSW Rural Fire Service, the Red Cross or the RSPCA.

RACQ’s foundation has a standing process for Queenslanders to apply for support after natural disasters.

Rabobank announced support for its clients affected by bushfires.

The farmer members of the Organic & Regenerative Investment Co-operative were supported by volunteers and raised over $20,000 through their appeal to support impacted organic farmers across Australia with emergency organic fodder and for farm rebuilding in the recovery period.

Australian Unity made a $100,000 donation to Australian Red Cross to assist relief and recovery efforts and also matched dollar-for-dollar any contributions its 7000-plus employees made to Red Cross and a number of organisations supporting wildlife and the environment. Australian Unity also introduced measures to financially support members, customers and employees affected by the fires.

HCF donated $20,000 to the Red Cross and $30,000 to the Royal Fire Service and also gave employees, whose families were affected by the fires, special leave. HCF members suffering financial hardship were offered a suspension of their membership fees for 1-6 months depending on their circumstances. For health insurance members, the group offered up to 3 months of free premiums.

CUA donated $50,000 each to the NSW, QLD and Victorian fire services. These donations followed a $25,000 contribution from CUA to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund in early December, to help volunteers continue to support communities impacted by the bushfire crisis. In addition to the donations, CUA financially assisted affected members by waiving fees and repayments and supported staff members who performed duties as volunteer firefighters or emergency services directly involved in the bushfire response, were eligible to claim up to 4 weeks of paid special leave. The credit union also introduced a new payment for team members with a partner who undertook volunteer firefighting efforts during the fires, where their partner was not already receiving paid emergency services leave from their own employer or the government.

Bus Association Victoria Inc offered assistance any way it could to its members affected by the bushfires including cash support, repairing and replacing vehicles, liasing with the regulator in giving them leniency on vehicle inspection dates and pricing.

The Geraldton Fishermens’ Co-operative allocated funds from its Christmas fund for the bushfire appeal and called out to its members to donate to the cause from their fishing payments.

Go Vita has over 140, member-owned stores Australia wide. Many are located in small regional communities that were impacted by the bushfires and some members including stores in Tenterfield and Bateman’s Bay were affected. Go Vita, on behalf of store owners, pledged at least $500 per day for the month of January 2020 to support those affected, contributing to both the Red Cross and Wires. Go Vita worked with health product suppliers to further assist impacted communities.

The orchards of three member growers of the Lenswood Apples – Lenswood Cold Stores Co-Operative Society Limited have been affected by the bushfires in the Adelaide Hills and the co-op assessed its response.

CBH Group donated $50,000 to BlazeAid.

RAA set up a dedicated hotline for members affected by bushfires.

Bank Australia announced a range of measures to support affected members and donated $50,000 to the Red Cross.

Alfalfa House Community Food Co-op members raised funds to help their macadamia supplier purchase new trees.

The Macadamia Processing Company donated $20,000 to BlazeAid.

Australian Mutual Bank responded to the bushfires immediately when it activated its bushfire disaster relief portal in November 2019 via its charity (Australian Mutuals  Foundation). Through this, the mutual created a vehicle to raise money from its members, from other corporate supporters within the mutual industry as well as their members.  Aside from donating $10,000 to the AMF bushfire appeal, the mutual launched a package for its members who have been affected by the fires.

The Ulladulla Fishermen’s Co-operative Ltd was essentially shut down for a week but they remained open and provided free ice to locals and stranded visitors who were sheltering in the NSW south Coast township.

The Cobargo Co-operative Society rural supplies store re-opened 2 days after the fires decimated the small community. Operating without power they took orders and supplied goods to local farmers, businesses and community members. The staff worked tirelessly to support the community to rebuild.

Bowral Co-operative Ltd & Saddleworld worked with local organisations to provide support with donations of various products including stock feed and helped its members affected on a case-by-case basis. They supported a drought appeal fundraising and worked with the local council, which had established a bushfire appeal.

In addition to their comprehensive member Disaster Relief package, IMB Bank announced immediate support for bushfire-ravaged communities on the NSW South Coast and Southern Highlands through a $100,000 contribution from the IMB Bank Community Foundation, pledging $50,000 to the Vinnies Bushfire Appeal and $50,000 to community groups on the South Coast of NSW.

Hastings Co-op hosted a free barbecue lunch, information session and thank you fundraiser for BlazeAid which helps communities rebuild after natural disasters.

Northern Co-operative Meat Company contributed $50,000 to BlazeAid to assist farmers and residents in Rappville, which was devasted by fires in October 2019.


Co-operatives and Mutuals businesses, employees and community members were encouraged to donate to support Australian communities to withstand and recover from the Australian Bushfire Crisis.

The Australian Mutual Foundation ran an appeal that many Australian and International Co-operative and Mutual Enterprises got behind.

All support for this appeal and charity partner Vinnies was greatly appreciated.

International Donations to co-operatives impacted by the Australian Bushfires

The BCCM was heartened by the solidarity shown by the international co-operative movement with Australian Co-operatives and their local communities impacted by the fires.

International Co-operatives and Mutuals that wanted to donate to support Australian co-operatives and their local communities impacted by the fires to recover and rebuild, were invited to donate to the Australian Mutuals Foundation (AMF) bushfire appeal.

  • Donations can be made by credit card
  • When making your donation, under the Member of menu item please identify your organisation by selecting the Business Council of Cooperatives and Mutuals if you wish to specifically support Australian co-ops.
  • If you wish to donate using a SWIFT code please email BCCM ([email protected]).

Please email BCCM if your international co-operative makes a donation. We can ensure your donation is shared with local co-operatives in affected communities and will report back to you on the impact of your donation.

Donate to other organisations are also running appeals providing invaluable services to affected communities and to help them rebuild:

Donate to support the volunteer fire services of New South WalesVictoria and South Australia.

Donate to support Australian environmental recovery and wildlife protection with WWF (see WWF’s 2020 Bushfire response impact report).

Apply for a small grant for bushfire impacted communities (Applications now closed)

Share your story

Co-ops and Mutuals are embedded in local, and often regional communities, and some may be directly impacted by the fires. Many co-ops and mutuals are already leveraging their local connections to support communities to manage during the crisis and to recover and rebound in the aftermath.

We are a community of enterprises committed to co-operation and mutual support. Throughout this crisis, we will continue to work together to support each other and our community.

Please complete the form below to share your stories about the bushfire crisis so we can work together to assist those impacted.

BCCM wants to know how your community has been affected by these devastating bushfires, how the CME community can assist and what action is already being taken to support impacted communities. BCCM will share this information with our membership.

Please share your story.

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