Money & Banking
NSW RFS reveals how the $51 million raised by Celeste Barber will be spent
Almost one year and a legal battle later, the $51 million in bushfire donations raised by Comedian Celeste Barber is being spent.
Barber's fundraiser garnered attention from all over the world with people donating in droves for last year's Black Summer bushfire crisis.
But the cause soon sparked controversy when it was revealed the funds could only be spent by the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Trust, which Barber had chosen as the benefactor, rather than shared with charities and victims.
The RFS went to the NSW Supreme Court to see if they could distribute the donations to other groups, but a judge declared the money could only go to them.
Now they have revealed how the plan on spending the money.
Speaking to Sunrise, inspector Ben Shepherd revealed the RFS asked its thousands of volunteers on what the service should do with the millions.
“That money was donated to our firefighters, we had to ask them where they wanted to spend it, because ultimately that money is theirs,” he explained.
“There’s a number of different projects the money is being funnelled into.”
He said $30 million would be spent on new hi-tech equipment, including state-of-the-art helmets and tracking devices.
And another $20 million has been distributed among brigades across the state for "station enhancements" and upgrades.
A separate $10 million is being kept in a "benevolent fund" for firefighters who were injured and families of heroes killed in the line of duty.
Shepherd said he wanted generous Australians to have “confidence” the RFS was spending the funds correctly.
“It’s ultimately the firies determining how it’s going to be spent, because the money was donated to them,” he said.
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