The New South Wales Rural Fire Service is asking the Australian Supreme Court for directions on how to access the $51M+ raised as part of Celeste Barber’s bushfire fundraiser.
A whopping $51.2 million was raised for the RFS through Barber’s Facebook appeal, but legalities have prevented the RFS from accessing the funds in a timely manner. The NSW RFS will now seek the advice of the Supreme Court to help to distribute the funds to other related charities and victims of the horrific bushfire crisis.
According to The Australian, none of the $51.2 million raised has been spent so far, largely as a result of the legalities associated with the enormous sum of money.
As it currently stands, the funds raised by Barber can only be used for “purchasing and maintaining fire-fighting equipment and facilities”, the brigade’s training and resources, and administrative costs. Unfortunately, this means that the funds can’t help re-home victims, rehabilitate animals, or with any other cost associated with the bushfire crisis.
Thankfully, the RFS are in the process of trying to open these funds up to a wider range of charities and organisations to best help the people who need it most.
An RFS spokesperson confirmed that the organisation was seeking the help of the Supreme Court on Thursday in a statement.
The statement asserted that the RFS was “incredibly grateful for the efforts of Celeste Barber and her record-breaking online fundraising campaign” and that they are “working with Celeste’s team to identify options for how the funds can be distributed”.
Unfortunately, there are a plethora of legal hoops to jump through before the funds can be distributed outside of the RFS’ current agreement. Although we’d all love to hand out the cash where it’s needed most, these things take time and there are protocols that need to be followed.
“What has become clear is that the issue is very complex and the options are limited. This is because there are a number of laws which limit how funds can be distributed,” a spokesperson for the RFS said, according to The Australian.
“At this stage, it’s planned to seek the direction of the Supreme Court to seek some clarity on how the funds can be used. This is likely to take some time.”
Throughout the statement, Celeste and the RFS clarified that all parties are “working hard to find a solution” as soon as possible.
The RFS, which had an income of $762,249 last financial year, has a balance that exceeds $100 million following the incredible generosity of corporate donors and charitable individuals.
Having too much money is definitely the best possible problem to have in this situation, but unfortunately it has caused some headaches that will require legal intervention before the funds can be appropriately distributed.