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 How NSWRFS distributes donations is under review!

26.02.20. Australia’s recent and ongoing disasters have caused massive donations of cash to pour in from generous people here in Australia and overseas. By law the government have their greedy claws ready for harvest. This anomaly must be remedied lest the stench of charity greed for administrative costs, such as the Red Cross debacle, will turn donors off if their money does not go where they intended.
New legislation will be introduced to change the way money donated to the NSW Rural Fire Service can be spent, in a bid to ensure $51 million raised by comedian Celeste Barber can be distributed to volunteer firefighters and affected communities. A bill to amend the Rural Fires Act will be introduced to NSW Parliament by the Greens on Wednesday, seeking to change the way donations to the RFS and Brigades Donations Fund made between November 1 and February 1 can be used. 

Source: Pallavi Singhal, Fairfax Media

New bill will seek to change how RFS can spend $51 million raised by Celeste Barber

Under the existing trust that governs the use of the fund, money can only be used to purchase and maintain firefighting equipment and facilities, provide training and resources and cover administrative expenses.
The bill will expand the existing act to say donations can be used to support the families of any RFS volunteers killed or injured while on duty, help bushfire-affected communities and individuals and support people and organisations providing care to animals that have been injured or displaced.
About 1.3 million people donated a total of $51.3 million to Ms Barber’s Facebook appeal but the money remains unspent.
The RFS said last week it would seek directions from the Supreme Court on how it could distribute the funds beyond its own operations.
However, Greens MP David Shoebridge said the problem was “unlikely to be fixed by any court application”.
“It really needs a legislative fix,” he said.
“We want to ensure the intentions of the more than one million donors are respected and this record donation is able to be used to do more than offset government expenditure on the RFS.”
Not one cent of the $52 million raised by comedian Celeste Berber has been donated to bushfire victims.
Mr Shoebridge said the Greens are open to discussions with other parties and Ms Barber on the drafting of the bill.
“The extraordinary generosity of ordinary Australians needs to be matched by some commonsense politics and that means opening up these funds to the firefighters, fire impacted communities and wildlife careers who so desperately need assistance,” he said.
Philanthropy expert and industry fellow at Swinburne University of Technology Krystian Seibert said legislation to vary the application of trusts law is more likely to succeed than the RFS’s Supreme Court approach.
“The Supreme Court can agree to what’s called a ‘cy prés scheme’ in limited circumstances. That allows funds held in a charitable trust like the RFS donations fund to be used for different purposes,” Mr Seibert said.
He said it’s more likely that the Supreme Court will reject the bid because the money is able to be spent in the way the trust specifies.
Mr Seibert said passing legislation could be the only option left if the court rejects RFS’s bid.
“Otherwise, the eventual outcome may be that the funds can only be used by the RFS for equipment, training and administration,” he said.

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Jayne Hill 26/02/2020, 8:15 am

    What is not to understand that “The RFS is the the Community”? That money donated is for said community.After all the members in said brigades are FROM each of affected area. Don’t they need new Trucks buildings and essential equipment? Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t all the members covered for compensation? Isn’t it the same for SES as well,?

    • MM Ed 26/02/2020, 9:14 am

      Jayne Hill, the NSWRFS gets budget of about $420 million of taxpayers’ money as an annual budget. That pays the salaries of the”white shirts” and buys fire trucks and other equipment. It’s safe to say that almost all donators believed their kind donations were to be spent on victims of fire, their lost possessions and animals, etc. The present laws allow the government to grab all that money and put it into consolidated revenue which then would be used for equipment. That means, in rough figures, that the government would cover the annual RFS budget with donated money and pocket upwards of a billion dollars to boot. As for compensation, that is a very complex matter to canvas here. You might be interested to know that I drive a fire truck and it is about 20-years old. It is in good condition but the equipment is old. The two hose reels on the back are still wound by hand, one man feeding, one man winding. I hope this helps you understand a bit more.

      • Peter W 26/02/2020, 10:14 am

        ……ah yes, but the donations to “Government” ARE tax deductible, ha ha

  • Cliff 26/02/2020, 9:04 am

    Surely the Celeste Barber donations problem could be fixed with the stroke of a pen? The NSW Government could simply make 52 million dollars available immediately to bushfire victims on the clearly-stated understanding that funding for the RFS will be reduced by $52 million dollars next year.

    Some of that $52 million could go to Victorian victims.


    • Pensioner Pete 26/02/2020, 9:51 am

      Nah, from the politician viewpoint, much better dumping the donations into consolidated revenue to fund ‘study tours’ to destinations we can only dream of.

  • Lorraine 26/02/2020, 10:04 am

    I am , from this day forth, not donating, I have donated to MS and the Blind for many years …..This will cease….Admin eats $dollars faster than a hungry dog

    • Finn 27/02/2020, 6:49 am

      Never a truer word Lorraine

  • Peter W 26/02/2020, 10:11 am

    I noticed Celeste Berber attempted to smear the PM during the “concert”. So glad I DID NOT donate to her “charity”. Why do these people politicise everything they touch. That would be the last thing on my mind when soliciting for donations!!

    • Cliff 26/02/2020, 12:23 pm

      Am I the only one who found Ms Barber’s whole (for want of a better word) ‘persona’ at the fund-raising concert, as she came on stage repeatedly to announce each new act (and to lambast Scott Morrison), each time in a new outfit, not in any way agreeable?

      I’d go so far as to describe her as thoroughly disagreeable.

      Here’s a hint, Celeste – when you have a microphone, connected to a world class sound system, in your hot little hand and it’s pressed up against your lips, YOU DON’T HAVE TO **** SHOUT!!!

      • Geoff 26/02/2020, 2:33 pm

        Apparently, she was told of the administrative ‘red tape’ and restrictions on distributing the donations made to the NSWRFS, several times during her campaign. However, she dismissed all advice as ‘spam’ and ‘trolling’, and continued on her merry way. Too much of an ‘I am’, to take constructive advice.

  • Ex ADF 26/02/2020, 12:14 pm

    This will all be forgotten the next time there is a natural disaster. The merry go round continues, to the sound of tinkling cash registers in the charity CEO’s office.

  • JG 27/02/2020, 12:08 pm

    Just look to Qld what theALP government did with donations after cyclones. Wonder if they have handed it all out yet.
    Who audits Governments and what they do with donations? No body?

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