The right response to Australia’s bushfires

Photograph: Sam Mooy/Getty Images

As an Australian, I have been overwhelmed by the generous response to the ongoing bushfire crisis. People are donating time and money to support firefighters, emergency personnel and the victims. Let me say a huge thank you and well done.

However, I am uneasy about the surge in overseas celebrities donating enormous amounts of money. I know thy have the best intentions, and once again we should be grateful, but I wonder if there would be as much international generosity if this crisis were happening in a less developed, and let’s be blunt, less white country.

To take just one example, last March Cyclone Idai smashed into south-eastern Africa, killing thousands in what some called the worst weather-related disaster ever to strike the southern hemisphere. A month later Cyclone Kenneth hit the same area causing another 50 deaths. Yes, there was an international response, and I am sure this involved generous donations by some celebrities, but I don’t remember anything on the scale of the international attention and generosity currently directed towards the Australian fires.

So why the disproportionate response? Is it because the photos coming out of Australia look so much more apocalyptic? Is it because our society is like theirs so disasters occurring here are so much more relatable? Is it the koalas and kangaroos?
Geoff Goldrick
Grassy Head, New South Wales

• Sadly, many of us have been ashamed to be Australian for far longer than Scott Morrison has been PM (Letters, 6 January), since both parties chose to keep genuine refugees in despair on Manus and Nauru. We’re just catching up with their despair.
Suzan Piper
Marrickville, New South Wales

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