Wednesday, 29 June 2022

    A simple $51 million mistake

    The Supreme Court has ruled that all the funds raised by Celeste Barber in her runaway charity campaign will only go to the Royal Fire Service, reports.

    In a case of the fine print getting in the way of the best laid plans, comedian Celeste Barber found herself caught in a legal nightmare after raising huge amounts of money during the bushfire crisis.

    The NSW Supreme Court has ruled that the Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and Brigades Donation Fund could not pay money to other charities or rural fire services – whether in NSW or elsewhere in Australia – to assist people or animals affected by bushfires.

    “Some donors may have intended or hoped the money they donated would be used for purposes beyond those which the court has advised are permissible,” Justice Michael Slattery said.

    “Despite the trustees’ wish to honour those intentions or hopes, the law provides principles that ensure a degree of certainty in the application of trust funds … and the court has applied these principles”.

    Victims said they were “appalled” by the decision, many of them still without homes after they were decimated in the fires.

    After the fundraiser went viral, Barber had indeed intended for money to go to victims.

    The problem in the outcome was hidden in the fine print.

    “It’s important to read the fine print and to understand what you can and can’t do as part of a fundraiser,” Krystian Seibert, of the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University of Technology, wrote for The Conversation.

    Mr Seibert said the national charities regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, had a free public register where you can look up information about individual charities.


    Celeste Barber bushfire fundraiser ruling: Comedian’s simple mistake in $51m drama (


    Celeste Barber / Facebook