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Regulator issues donation warning in wake of Türkiye earthquake

13 February 2023 at 3:46 pm
Ruby Kraner-Tucci
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) warns Australians to donate cautiously to charities supporting the earthquake crisis in Türkiye and Syria.

Ruby Kraner-Tucci | 13 February 2023 at 3:46 pm


Regulator issues donation warning in wake of Türkiye earthquake
13 February 2023 at 3:46 pm

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) warns Australians to donate cautiously to charities supporting the earthquake crisis in Türkiye and Syria.

As the earthquake disaster in Türkiye and Syria continues to unfold, the ACNC has warned the public to be aware of scam appeals and instead donate to legitimate charities registered with the national regulator.

Australians lost over $418,000 last year to fake charities, with over 790 reports of the scam type, ScamWatch – an initiative of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) – found. While fake charity scams occur all year round, they often take the form of a response to disasters or emergencies, including bushfires, floods and earthquakes.

ACNC commissioner Sue Woodward said the real figures are “likely to be higher than those reported in official scam reports as these are just the tip of the iceberg”, placing greater emphasis on the need to donate cautiously.

“We strongly advise donors to look for established, registered charities running verified appeals,” said Woodward.

“Before giving to someone that claims to be from a charity, take a moment to check the ACNC’s charity register. In a matter of seconds, you can verify that an organisation is a registered charity and have confidence that your money will go where you intend it to go.

“Many people will be getting prompts to donate to appeals in their social media feeds and in emails. We strongly recommend that rather than clicking on a link it is better to visit a charity’s website and donate following the processes shown there.”

The regulator also suggests being extra careful to give credit card or bank details online; to always request identification from in-person collectors; and to ask to contact a charity back if you have received an unsolicited phone call so that you can confirm it is not a scam.

“Our hearts go out to the people whose lives have been devastated by this disaster. To those who have lost loved ones or are still waiting to hear. There will be long term support needed,” continued Woodward.

“I know Australians are very generous and they turn to charities to provide help at times like these.”

Australian charities offer support

Over 33,000 people have died in the earthquake that hit Türkiye and Syria last week, with the United Nations warning the final death toll figure may double. The natural disaster has prompted an international crisis response, with many countries providing aid in the form of volunteers, resources and donations.



With no single official appeal for victims of the earthquake, a host of Australian charities have set up campaigns to contribute to the relief and rebuilding efforts. 

The Emergency Action Alliance (EAA), a coalition of 15 leading non-government organisations that respond to humanitarian emergencies, has launched a joint donation appeal. The alliance, which includes ActionAid Australia, CARE Australia, Plan International Australia and Save the Children Australia, is providing resources and financial support to affected communities.

“Right now EAA member organisations are working with their local partners on the ground to provide immediate, life-saving aid to the disaster response, including search and rescue efforts as thousands of people remain trapped in the rubble,” said executive director Kerren Morris.

“They are doing all they can, but we urgently need donations to reach thousands more people. The death toll is expected to rise dramatically and there will be hundreds of thousands of people who need shelter, food, and other assistance, particularly in the current harsh winter conditions. We are urging Australians to give whatever they can to help.”

EAA member Oxfam Australia is also joining its global partner network in its aim to support nearly two million people in Türkiye and Syria – approximately 10 per cent of the population affected by the earthquake – by providing food, shelter, blankets, clean water, hygiene packs and psychological support.



With the response effort predicted to take over one year to complete, the not for profit called on the international community to donate to meet the “urgent needs” of local communities, as well as to help facilitate aid delivery and contribute to a long-term recovery plan to support survivors.

People are living in cars, mosques, in tents or huddling around fires in freezing conditions. Emergency shelters are overwhelmed and over-crowded,” said Oxfam Türkiye’s spokesperson Meryem Aslan.

“We are facing new hurdles getting aid to those who need it. We are dealing with destroyed roads, nearly 300 aftershocks and an unprecedented scale of devastation. The sheer number of fatalities is heart-breaking.”

Other campaigns include the Australian Red Cross’ Türkiye-Syria Earthquakes Appeal, which will help provide immediate and longer-term relief to communities, with support including search and rescue assistance, specialist aid workers and help to locate missing family members. 

UNICEF Australia’s appeal is focused on aiding children and families, through the provision of targeted supplies and services as well as ensuring evacuation to safe spaces, while social justice not for profit Stand Up’s appeal targets the Australian Jewish community, partnering with peak Jewish bodies in Victoria and New South Wales to raise funds for IsraAid.

Ruby Kraner-Tucci  |  @ProBonoNews

Ruby Kraner-Tucci is a journalist, with a special interest in culture, community and social affairs. Reach her at

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