Yesterday the Supreme Court of New South Wales made a ruling about money raised for fire relief.
The Supreme Court provided judicial advice in respect of $51 million donated to the Rural Fire Services & Brigades (RFS) Donations Fund. This money was predominantly raised from the fundraising efforts of comedian, media personality and Instagram queen, Celeste Barber.
It was decided that the interpretation of the RFS Trust Deed to determine the legal limits of how the money could be applied were that – the money cannot be paid to other charities or rural fire services, whether in NSW or other Australian States and Territories.
However, the funds can be used to: set up or contribute to a fund to support the RFS’ rural firefighters injured while firefighting, or the families of rural firefighters killed while firefighting; provide NSW volunteer firefighters with physical health training and resources, mental health training and resources, or trauma counselling services; and set up or contribute to a fund to meet the costs for NSW volunteer rural firefighters to attend and complete courses to improve skills related to the volunteer-based fire and emergency service activities of NSW RFS brigades.
Some donors may have intended or hoped that the money they donated would be used for purposes beyond those which the Court has advised are permissible
NSW Supreme Court Justice Michael Slattery said that some donors may have intended or hoped that the money they donated would be used for purposes beyond those which the Court has advised are permissible. ‘Despite the trustees’ wish to honour those intentions or hopes the law provides principles than ensure a degree of certainty in the application of trust funds including charitable trust funds and the Court has applied these principles in giving its advice in these reasons.’
Barber responds on social media
Though not the outcome she had hoped for, Celeste Barber took to Instagram to break the news to her 7.1 million followers.
‘Hi friends – so an update on the fire money.
‘The supreme court ruled today that the money is going to stay with the New South Wales RFS and they are already doing pretty incredible things with it.
‘They are going to be doing trauma counselling, money is going to families who lost firefighters, it’s going to injured firefighters as well.
I want to give you guys all the love again, because, holy shitballs Batman, you made a massive difference it’s crazy
‘It isn’t going everywhere that we had kind of wanted it to, but what it is doing is going to make such a difference.
‘So I have a bit of a press release statement thing that I am going to post.
‘I want to give you guys all the love again, because, holy shitballs Batman, you made a massive difference it’s crazy.
‘The messages I get from people who have been affected by these fires is unbelievable.’
Barber’s official statement
In her statement Celeste said it was decided today in the Supreme Court that the money we raise will stay in the New South Wales RFS I had hoped because it was such a big and ‘unprecedented’ amount, but it could’ve been distributed to the other states and charities. ‘Turns out that studying acting at university does not make me a law maker.
‘So the money will be in the very capable, very grateful hands of the New South Wales RFS. It will be used for equipment and training, to support rule fire fighters injured wildlife fighting, the families are all firefighters killed while firefighting, along with mental health training and trauma counselling, to train up more volunteers and help communities be better prepared for the ongoing threat of bushfires here in our beautiful Australia.
To our volunteer firefighters you are Rockstars like no others. You will never know the depth and breath of our gratitude
‘To our volunteer firefighters you are Rockstars like no others. You will never know the depth and breath of our gratitude.
‘I want to thank everyone around the world who donated. From the kids who smashed their piggybanks open, to the single mums that gave what they called. To everyone from all walks of life that hurt us and helped, whether it was a handful of gold coins or a big fat check. This is all because of you guys.
‘My family say thank you. They felt abandoned and were terrified in the face of all of this and you guys made them feel less alone, this is the power of people.
Stay for a stay stay friends.