Bushfire survivor Turia Pitt launches social campaign for businesses

Bushfire survivor Turia Pitt launches social campaign in support of fire-impacted businesses

Turia Pitt
In 2011, when Turia Pitt was just 26 years old, she suffered horrifying burns to 65 percent of her body. The injury was sustained when Pitt, a keen marathon runner, was caught in a grassfire during a race in Western Australia.

She was placed in a medically induced coma for weeks and spent several months thereafter in rehabilitation and recovery.

But the trauma she endured didn’t hold Pitt back. In fact, it spurred her to keep living a truly remarkable life and for nearly a decade she’s been the face of various body positive campaigns, public advocacy and philanthropic efforts.

Her latest pursuit, comes off the back of Australia’s horrific bushfire crisis; a tragedy which has not only ravaged wildlife, homes and landscape, but also lives and livelihoods. Many Australian businesses which operate in bushfire regions are hurting right now and some have quite literally burnt to the ground.

That’s why Pitt’s campaign, #SpendWithThem launched across Instagram is so critical. It’s a platform for small businesses affected by the fires to promote themselves freely and to start the process of rebuilding.

In just 48 hours, the account has attracted 109,000 followers, with business owners across the country sharing how positively Pitt’s advocacy has impacted them.

Pitt, who lives in the small south coast town of Ulladulla with her husband and young son and is currently 8 months pregnant, was caught up in the emergency in the weeks leading up to the new year. She told her Instagram followers, that the last few weeks had been “tough” for her.

“I’ve had to focus on not letting my emotions and own experiences get the better of me.”


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Fires had been raging up and down the South Coast for close to a month. People were evacuated from Bawley Point and Tabourie Lake. Milton was hit. Michael did food and supply runs in his boat. We watched as the sky went red and black days before Christmas. More fires broke out on New Years Eve. I watched, my mouth agape, as two angry plumes from the fires north and south of us joined together over Mollymook Beach. And then, the power went out. Mobile reception became spotty. Internet was down. Rumours swirled around town like the ashes that rained down on us. Embers in our backyards. Homes had been lost. Whole streets obliterated. A girlfriend’s panicked text about her dad being trapped. I packed my go bag and filled the bath with water. Michael cooked bacon and eggs on the barbecue outside. Hakavai and I read books on the balcony. We watched as the fine grey smoke settled in on our beloved Mollymook Beach. At a quarter to eight, the evening was quiet. Not a peaceful and serene quiet, but an eerie quiet. An apocalyptic quiet. No one on their balconies drinking beers. No music blaring from our neighbours next door, or from the houses across the street. No revellers preparing to celebrate the new year. And it was dark. No power. No lights. First of all: I’m sorry that I haven’t been more proactive in this time. It’s been a tough few weeks for me emotionally. I’ve had to focus on not letting my emotions and own experiences get the better of me. I’ve tried to not let the panic genie out of the bottle (because once that genie’s out, you’ve got zero chance of squashing it back in). And, I’m exhausted. I feel like I’ve done 10 marathons. And we can’t relax because it’s only the start of summer, and it’s not over yet. So just like in a marathon, I’ve realised I have to pace myself. A lot of things have been tough. Being 8 months pregnant with a toddler, I’ve felt as useful as tits on a bull. I’ve had recurring nightmares about running through flames with my son in my arms. It’s been difficult to sleep, eat or think and all I’ve really wanted to do is tap out, put my head in the sand and pretend that nothing is going on. Continued in comments.

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Pitt implored her followers to get behind Aussie businesses currently doing it tough right now.

“This is a way to put money directly in the pockets of the people and communities who need it the most, and need it NOW,” she wrote.

“Help them rebuild. Make them feel heard. Spend with them.”

She added to News.com.au that the campaign was an important step forward for businesses damaged.

“The reality is that these towns and communities are going to need our help long after the initial threat is all over.

“We hope that SpendWithThem can be a way to help business owners, not just now, but into the future,” she said.


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