Welcome to Skills for the Bush, an opportunity for Australian freelancers to help other self-employed people and small businesses recover from the 2019 to 2020 bushfires.
The Australian bushfires have touched many of us, directly and indirectly. It’s hard to watch entire towns decimated, thousands of homes lost, animals injured and dying, and more without wanting to do something.
Many of us sat glued to the RFS app and equivalent apps, website and news reports, awaiting news of our friends and family, childhood homes, favourite holiday places, and the countless areas that are ‘just down the road’.
The immediate support through fundraising and donations of goods has been overwhelming. But many of the towns and regions affected by the bushfires will need ongoing support for months, if not years, to recover.
We’re coordinating help for bushfire recovery, freelance style
The Freelance Jungle is looking for freelancers and self-employed people who are interested in donating skills as part of a sustainable recovery effort. That is, once small business begins to trade again or to get them ready to do so.
We’re calling this project Skills for the Bush.
We recognise that small business, freelancing and operations such as tourism and hospitality are the lifeblood of many coastal, regional and rural communities. We want to help our fellow self-employed people get back on their feet through practical donation of skills, mentorship and direct assistance.
And we know that many of our beloved membership were directly or indirectly affected by these fires. Indeed, one of our admins was on alert for potential to evacuate, another’s father sat at a beach in a designated evacuation zone, hoping beyond hope they could go home again. We know members that defended their homes, fled, saw their towns consumed and potentially, even lost things of their own.
These fires are so widespread, many of us have friends or family that fought for their homes, volunteered to support communities or are feeling powerless now in the wake of the destruction and devastation, asking for something to do to help.
This is one small part of a big recovery effort. It may indeed give you the place you need to connect, heal and support.
By responding to the Skills for the Bush survey, you are saying you’re willing to give of your skills and business acumen to help other freelancers and self-employed businesses affected by the 2019 and 2020 bushfires.
You also don’t have to be a Freelance Jungle group member to participate. We want to bring any and all that have the skills to support self-employed people together. We don’t mind if you are not connected to us in anyway. It’s about the desire to help that counts.
Share the Skills for the Bush survey call out widely with your friends- the more the merrier.
Within the survey, you can nominate the size of your commitment and even give details about when you may be able to commit throughout the year. That way, you can make an informed decision about how much help you can give and the optimum timing.
How it will work beyond the survey
We honestly don’t know if this will get a strong response or be a well-intended whisper with no takers. As such, we want to check in to make sure we have the abilities before we start approaching people in need.
However, the basic coordination is envisaged to go like this:
- Collect interest
- Assess what kind, when, how much and where this assistance is available
- Match the current survey with one that calls out to businesses and self-employed people that need help
- Approach appropriate bodies such as local business centres, chamber of commerce, the tourism bodies etc to let them know help is available
- Centralise coordination via the Freelance Jungle and our friends like Fckgiving (a collective movement for game changers in the environmental and social justice scene)
Beyond the bushfires
We also know that bushfires aren’t the only threat to the towns and their local economies. The drought has drained many parts of the country. If this program proves fruitful, we hope to extend it to incorporate towns that may not have copped bushfire but have been hurting from drought.
If you have been affected by the bushfires and/or drought, we want to help you. Please stay close to our blog for further information.
As mentioned, we simply don’t know how much of a need there is. There are already great promotional works happening via the ‘Buy from the Bush’ campaign or the social media awareness campaign ‘Buy from them’ spearheaded by Turia Pitt. Our aim is not to take away or distract from any of the current undertakings.
The scale of the recovery is enormous, this is our chance to add to that in a practical way.
We’re also well aware that businesses have faced backlash and scrutiny over their collection of funds, tying it to promotions and where those funds will be received.
This is why we’re opting for skill-based support, a coordinated, self-nomination approach with both giver and receiver. It’s also why we’re not tying it to any aspect of Freelance Jungle life beyond using our platforms to share the information. This is reflected in our choice of main branding and no barrier to entry.
The only time we ask if you are a Freelance Jungle directory member is simply to cut down the legwork of introducing yourself.
The volume of work may create bottlenecks. We’re a grassroots movement that is run primarily through volunteer power. It remains to be seen what will happen. However, we will update all participants along the way.
The ATO views barter as having a dollar amount attached to it that may influence your earnings. You may need to check with your accountant to ensure you understand how barter is treated as well as the value of the barter you are offering may affect your earnings and/or GST obligations.
Interested in helping out?
For direct questions in relation to the coordination of the project and/or usage of your information or any press, please email Rebekah Lambert firstname.lastname@example.org