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If you’re feeling helpless looking at the news these days, here’s what you can do

There's more than one way you can be empowered and use your voice.
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It’s fair to say that we are living through hard times, and every day the news cycle offers more reasons to fret.

Thanks to the ever-increasing speed we receive information, that horrible feeling is reaching new heights and with Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, news sites, TikTok, and TV at our fingertips, it’s easier than ever to fall into a hole.

While it’s important to stay informed, we know the constant cycle is terrible for our mental health and makes us feel even more helpless.

A couple embrace on the roof of their home in Queensland.

(Image: Getty)

As we watch fellow Australians lose their homes in catastrophic floods and see Ukrainian friends hiding from bombs in basements, the guilt is palpable and a privilege.

However, privilege isn’t a bad word. On the contrary, it’s a good thing because we can use our position to help.

But how, you may ask? Just because we can’t physically help or stop what’s happening doesn’t mean we’re useless, and it’s easier to get involved than you think.

There are four practical choices we can make to offer our hand, and while we don’t have to do every single one, here’s how we can all help our friends, family, and fellow citizens of earth.

Donate what you can

According to The Charities and Aid Foundation (CAF) World Giving Index, in 2018 Australia was the “second most generous country in the world” after Indonesia when it came to helping strangers, volunteering, and donating money – we deserve a pat on the back for that!

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission has a great resource on their website called the ACNC Charity Register, which includes helpful information about charities like operation locations and annual reporting – although it notes that not all legitimate charities choose to register with them.

Just remember to be wary of donation requests sent to you from someone you don’t know. If you’re unsure when something is legitimate, search the charity name on the registry and donate through an official website.

Even though some charities are tax-deductible, also keep it mind that not all are so be sure to do your research.

Ukrainians standing amongst the devastation.

(Image: Getty)

Sign an online petition or two

Not everyone is privileged enough to donate when an emergency is unfolding. However, you can create an online petition with your state and federal government.

Whilst protesting is a great way to empower our electoral strength, petitioning is an underrated (and COVID safe) way to communicate with our ministers.

On a state level, the information you need can be found on your government’s website, and to make it easier, we have rounded them up below.

In Victoria, you can start or sign a petition here.

In New South Wales, you can start or sign a petition here.

In ACT, you can start or sign a petition here.

In Tasmania, you can start or sign a petition here.

In Northern Territory, you can start or sign a petition here.

In South Australia, you can start or sign a petition here.

In Western Australia, you can start or sign a petition here.

To create and sign petitions on a federal level you can get started here.

Petitions may feel small, but they show our electorate (people who must represent us) what we want, value, and need as a community. Look at Chanel Contos!

Petitions may feel small, but they show our electorate what we want, value, and need as a community.

(Image: Getty)

Write to your MPs

We will say it again! We have power as an electorate, but we need to tell our politicians what we want and call them out when we aren’t getting enough support or seeing real action.

Writing emails and letters to your member of parliament is one of the easiest, most cost-effective and impactful ways to do that, and it’s easier than you think.

To get started, you need to find out who your local representative is, go to their website to find their email and then start writing.

Make sure you use their correct title, include facts, figures, news items, local connections, and your personal experience or explain why it’s important to you and remember to stay polite.

Oxfam Australia offers a great guide on their website that outlines how you can draft a message.

First, you need to start the letter by addressing your MP with the correct title. Then you need to introduce yourself and the issue you’re bringing to them.

Sometimes charities, organisations, and lawyers have already drafted emails you can copy to send to your MP such as this example from the Refugee Council in Australia.

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Encourage friends, family and more

Perhaps the easiest and most impactful way you can help is to encourage the people around you to take action WITH you. After all, aren’t we better together?

You can start making a ripple effect through sharing charities, petitions, and drafted letters for MPs with your friends, family members, colleagues, company, and even businesses you invest your money in, like Optus or your local restaurant.

We can all do something within our means and capacity to offer help, and there is no action too small.

So, wield your resource of choice and make it count!

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