Friday, 12 April 2024

    Black Summer donations nearly $640 million

    The sheer scale of the bushfires that scarred so much of the country’s east coast a year ago shocked millions around the world. But the enormity of what followed is almost as stunning, ABC News reports.

    From philanthropists to celebrities and corporations to ordinary people across the country, Australians rallied in their millions to help, and in doing so created a challenge like no other — how to get the enormous sum of $640 million raised to people in need.

    In unprecedented conditions, charities have had the Herculean task of assessing and distributing money to tens of thousands of recipients across NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

    St Vincent de Paul volunteers alone had to conduct 12,000 face-to-face interviews with applicants, many in harrowing conditions, to determine who was eligible for the Federal Government’s hardship payment of $1,000.

    Today, hundreds of volunteers are still helping to rebuild lives as well as homes among the charred debris of stricken communities.
    Pandemic hampers efforts

    All of this occurred against the backdrop of the pandemic, with lockdowns and border closures making a hard job almost impossible at times.

    St Vincent de Paul chief executive Toby O’Connor said it had been a huge challenge for Vinnies volunteers to reach people.

    “In the aftermath of the fires, in those remote communities where the roads were closed, it did take weeks,” Mr O’Connor said.

    But despite the logistical nightmare, 12 months on the charities are reporting a major success story.

    Mr O’Connor says the public can be confident their donations have reached the hands of those who lost so much, and the charities have been able to keep their costs to a minimum.

    All the major charities reported administration costs of 5 per cent or less — much lower than the level regarded as acceptable by regulators.

    “Every dollar donated has gone 100 per cent to those in need,” Mr O’Connor said.

    The Red Cross, St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army raised $435 million between them and have so far delivered more than 80 per cent of those funds.


    Black Summer donations from Australians nudged $640 million. Getting it to those in need was a miracle (ABC News)


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