In response to the 2019-2020 bushfire crisis, Australians engaged in an astounding level of charitable giving and volunteering in order to help communities and wildlife affected by the devastating bushfires.

Although humanitarian, wildlife and emergency service organisations, as well as Celeste Barber’s well-publicised crowdfunding campaign and donations from prominent celebrities and philanthropists, featured prominently in media reports of the humanitarian response to the bushfire crisis, the response to the bushfire crisis went well beyond these widely reported actions and events.

While it is true that established organisations played a critical role in the emergency response to the bushfire crisis, and will be instrumental in recovery and rebuilding efforts, it was also apparent that Australians bypassed charitable organisations and organised their own hyper-local, agile humanitarian responses to the crisis using the knowledge, skills and resources they had to hand.

Most of these activities and initiatives were invisible to people outside the communities in which these responses were enacted. Moreover, many of these initiatives flashed into and out existence, disappearing from view once they served their purpose.

It is a social and research priority to develop an understanding of these community-led initiatives so as to expand our awareness of the forms of hyperlocal voluntary humanitarian behaviour in times of humanitarian crisis. It is the purpose of this project to document and make sense of these initiatives.

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