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A Response To The Bushfire Crisis

Today was supposed to be a return to our ‘regular programming’ here at The Design Files. We had planned to kick off the year with a whole lot of beautiful homes, artist interviews and creative profiles. But we’re not going to jump straight into that today.

Stick with us, we’ll be back to regular stuff soon, but today we wanted to let you know what we’re doing about the bushfire crisis, and how you can help.

6th January, 2020

‘Bushfire’, 1859, by Eugene von Guerard. Collection of the Art Gallery of Ballarat.

Lucy Feagins
Monday 6th January 2020

There is so much to be done, and so much we can do.

Like so many of you, as the bushfire crisis has escalated across Australia, I’ve spent the past few days in disbelief, and feeling pretty helpless.

I’ve been refreshing my trusted news sources (The Guardian Australia homepage, mainly) every few minutes, and scanning Instagram for updates of what’s going on. (Some of the best first hand accounts are from photojournalists on the ground, including Andrew Quilty, Matthew Abbott and and Nick Moir – their work documenting these fires is so risky and it’s so important.)

I won’t repeat the death toll, the horrifying facts and figures. You don’t need me to tell you that this situation is absolutely unprecedented.

Right now we’re all scared, and many of us are angry. Why don’t our firefighters have funds for more water bombing aircraft, more vehicles and equipment? Why is our regional firefighting so heavily dependent on unpaid volunteers? Why is our government spending time and money on paid advertising during this crisis, when we desperately need them to lead?

Still, some great leadership has emerged. Can we talk about Celeste Barber for a minute? The woman has raised more than $20 MILLION Australian dollars for bushfire relief in 3 days via her social media. What an absolute LEGEND. This response shows just how powerful we are as individuals, when we are united. And that’s incredibly inspiring.

It’s easy to feel small and powerless, but it’s up to each and every one of us to take action – and to channel our fear, frustration and anger into real outcomes.

SO, here’s what we’re doing.

1. Fundraising

The Design Files has donated $1,000 to the CFA (Country Fire Authority Victoria) and a further $1,000 to the Red Cross Australia Disaster Relief Fund.

Tomorrow, we will be launching Art Fights Fire 2020 – an online Art Auction with some SERIOUSLY big name artists who’ve each generously donated an artwork (Ken Done, Laura Jones, Guy Maestri, Reko Rennie, Kirra Jamison, Rachel Castle, Elizabeth Barnett, Stephen Baker, Kiata Mason, Sally Anderson, Brooke Holm and so many more!).

I know many of you will have made donations to the relief efforts this week, and I know it’s not the time to really think about buying art… but please consider digging deep and supporting our auction when it goes live tomorrow, we’re aiming to raise $50,000 – please help us get there!

2. Using our platform to support urgent action on climate change

How will we be doing this? Well, first up, we’ve written a letter to our local member of parliament. Letter writing is so important – every letter is recorded, and each elected MP is obliged to take their electorate’s concerns to parliament.

See here for more info and a guide to  contacting your MP.

This video on is also very informative, and there is a handy letter template you can download here.

We will continue to use our website and our social media channels to support bushfire relief and climate action over the coming weeks and months.

We’ll also be the at the ‘Fund the Firies / Climate Action‘ rally this Friday January 10th, 6pm in Melbourne – JOIN US. There are protests this week in all Australian capital cities. Please google and find yours!

3. Watch this space

We have plans. Plans to leverage our influence and our audience (that’s you guys!) to enact big and long lasting change, and measurably reduce Australia’s carbon emissions – this year. When these catastrophic fires finally subside, and the media and our leaders turn their attention to recovery and rebuilding, our project will be ready to go. Stay with us.

There is so much to be done, and so much we can do.

Now is the time for action.

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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.