I’ve written on the massive fundraising that was lead by Celeste Barber and led to a $51m donation to the NSW Rural Fire Service Brigades and Donations Fund – see

I note that today the Rural Fire Service has made an announcement about how they plan to use the money – see Rural Fire Service Donations Update (January 24, 2020).  In that update they say:

Through the NSW RFS and our Donations Trust, we’ve identified four key areas to focus on. These are:

  • Rebuilding – taking immediate action to rebuild and replenish, including the establishment of the $10 million fund for volunteer brigades, and providing emergency funding for brigade items which have been damaged or destroyed.
  • Supporting – enhancing and extending our support of our members including volunteer welfare and their mental health, and consideration of a dedicated memorial for fallen volunteer firefighters.
  • Equipping – ensuring our brigades are equipped to protect the community, property and the environment, including improving technology and connectivity.
  • Improving – improving service delivery for members and the community such as education and training, emergency response and processes for volunteers.

These are a starting point and we’re looking forward to consulting with our volunteers on meaningful initiatives that will make a difference for our brigades and the community.

While donated funds may be used to accelerate or supplement existing programs, we want to make it clear that donation money won’t be used to replace funding that is normally provided by Government or usual funding sources. This is about delivering money to where it’s most wanted and delivers the best value for our members.

As for expectations that money would be diverted to other charities or other services they say:

We are still working through the details of some donations, including large online campaigns. Some of these involve complex issues and everyone is working hard to ensure the money goes where it was intended. Once these issues are worked through, we’ll have a better idea of how much money is available and what kinds of initiatives can be carried out.

In my earlier posts, listed above, I have noted (with input from professional colleagues) what some of those complex issues are, not least the limited nature of the trust deed. Certainly the 4 priorities that they have listed appear to be consistent with the trust deed. One hopes those that have donated see this is a worthwhile use of their contributions.

For those still hoping to see the money more widely distributed it remains the case, as the RFS admits, that these are complex issues. Whether they find a way to do that remains to be seen.