How an Aussie mum is preparing to help 'defenceless' bushfire victims

Jemma Burke is making sure animal rescue groups are well-resourced ahead of a likely brutal bushfire season.

As Aussies prepare for what could be one of the worst bushfire seasons in the country, one mum is making sure our "beautiful and defenceless" wildlife are not left behind.

With El Niño declared last week and fears building of a repeat of the 2019/2020 Black Summer fires, Sutherland Shire resident Jemma Burke is taking action "before it gets super dire".

Together with the Rescue Craft Co collective, she has started making pouches and mittens for injured animals all across Australia to pass on to wildlife rescue groups "so they've got enough in terms of rehabilitation".

A photo of Sydney local Jemma Burke and her husband. A photo of a koala injured from the 2019 bushfires, wearing mittens for its burnt paws.
Sydney mum Jemma Burke is making sure wildlife rescue groups have enough mittens and pouches for injured animals ahead of the bushfire season. Source: Supplied

"[Black Summer] was devastating and really hard to watch," she told Yahoo News Australia. "I love animals and couldn't kind of just sit there and see this happen and not be a part of the situation."

"Me and my husband did a trip down to Burrill Lake before the fire actually ripped through there and we were able to do a delivery of all different types of things."

How do the items aid injured animals?

The mittens for burnt paws and pouches used to mimic the environment young marsupials grow in are "for all wildlife" including koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, possums, bats and wombats.

“Once an animal is rescued, some of the kangaroos or wallabies have joeys that may not have died, and so they can be rescued and put in those pouches," Jemma said. "For when those animals have been burnt quite severely, they get ointments on them and then the joeys and the kangaroos do jump into those pouches."

How can I help?

Jemma has set up a GoFundMe that'll go towards buying materials for the items. The "excess" money will go towards the Rescue Craft Co group, which the admin will "disperse to anywhere that needs it".

"If we are in the middle of a fire, those rescue groups also do require food for the animals and things like that," she said. Donations of old cotton flannelette bedding, or just regular cotton sheets, are also "greatly appreciated".

A photo of Jemma stencilling pouches. A photo of some ready made pouches and mittens Jemma has created.
The items are shipped out all across Australia. Source: Supplied

And if people want to sow, knit or crochet themselves, Jemma recommended looking up patterns on the Facebook page.

"I feel like when the fires do hit, that's when everyone's like, 'oh, I really help', which is fantastic," she said. "But I think it's the action before it gets super dire that needs to happen, because it was quite hard in 2019 to get the resources to where they were needed because roads were closed. So if we can do it prior, that would be really handy."

If you see a displaced, orphaned, or injured animal, notify your local wildlife rescue immediately or call WIRES on 1300 094 737.

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