Hawthorn Football Club is deeply saddened to witness the devastation brought about by the current Australian bushfire crisis.

Acting CEO Graham Wright today announced a range of initiatives the club will roll out to help lessen the financial and physical burden on those who have been affected by the bushfires.

“We are devastated by the events that have taken place across our country in recent weeks,” Wright said.

“However, it has been humbling to see the response from our people, with players, coaches and staff all eager to assist in any way they can.

“As such, we’ve developed a series of initiatives to ensure we can have a genuine and meaningful impact in helping the affected communities. 

“These will include financial contributions and physical labour in bushfire-affected areas, as well as additional efforts through our existing partnerships with the Emergency Services agencies, in particular through our upcoming practice match in Morwell.

“Given that these fires have had a disastrous impact in our Next Generation Academy zone of Gippsland, we’re aware that many Hawthorn academy families, members and supporters have been affected.

“Our thoughts go out to all of those going through hardship right now, and to the brave firefighters, emergency services and volunteers risking their lives to keep others safe.”

Read: Jeff's letter to members

See details of Hawthorn’s bushfire relief initiatives below.

‘Emergency Services’ practice match in Gippsland: Hawthorn’s practice match against St Kilda, to be held in Morwell on Friday February 28th, will now have a strong focus on supporting local emergency services workers, the local community and driving people to the Gippsland region. Football fans across the state are encouraged to attend the match, make an optional donation, and support the community by visiting local cafes and retailers. Food vendors from bushfire affected areas will be invited to trade at the event. Match-goers will have the opportunity to celebrate and thank the local firefighting volunteers. Beyond Blue and Headspace Morwell will be present, ready to provide mental health advice and techniques to those that have been affected by the bushfires. Following the practice match, attendees are encouraged to bring chairs or picnic rugs and set themselves up at the ground to watch the broadcast of the State of Origin charity game on large screens, free of charge to the community. The event will be made possible by the generous support of BankVic. 

Emergency Services Match: Hawthorn will host its second annual Emergency Services Match when it takes on Collingwood at the MCG in Round 3. The match will be another opportunity to thank all those who risk their lives to keep us safe, while raising much-needed funds for these agencies. More details will follow in the coming weeks. 

Community work in bushfire-affected areas: Following the 2009 Black Saturday fires, Hawthorn players and staff donated their time to bushfire-affected areas, helping the community by rebuilding fences, delivering hay and performing other tasks to ease the physical burden. The club plans to replicate these efforts in 2020, with small groups of players and staff set to visit affected areas on a fortnightly basis. The club will heed advice from the emergency services agencies as to when it is safe to assist in the area, and the Hawks’ community work will continue across the course of the year. 

Club donation: The club has contributed $50,000 via the AFL, as part of the league’s $2.5m contribution. This has gone towards the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery, as well as helping to establish a community relief fund for grassroots facilities.

Individual donations: Players, coaches and staff also want to make a meaningful contribution to help those in need, thus have each committed to making a donation towards the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. We will announce the total once confirmed.