Australia’s peak charity body has come out swinging over attacks levelled at the Red Cross and other organisations, accusing politicians of “scapegoating” frontline groups already overwhelmed by the unprecedented bushfire relief effort, The Australian reports.
Community Council for Australia chairman Tim Costello described the vitriol from at least three NSW government ministers this week as “surreal”, with NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott issuing a warning to three frontline charities to “pull your finger out”.
The Red Cross, St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army have been accused of drip-feeding donations to fire-ravaged communities and failing to deliver desperately needed relief to traumatised and increasingly angry evacuees.
Mr Costello said the pile-on reflected the level of “profound shock” and unpreparedness Australians were feeling over the unprecedented scale of the bushfire disaster, which was still unfolding.
But he said the backlash against charities — and accusations donors’ money was not going where it was supposed to — was a well-recognised phase in national disasters.
Mr Costello — who headed up the World Vision operation of the 2004 tsunamis — said after the first waves of shock, followed by an “outpouring of generous giving”, there was invariably a period of public “rage” over why so many victims were still in distress.
“It is so depressingly familiar,” Mr Costello said.
The three charities have all defended their relief efforts, pointing out every cent of the donations will be needed in the long recovery process ahead.
Bushfires: Charities hit back at critical MPs (The Australian)