Following months of red tape, it has been decided by the NSW Supreme Court that the funds raised by a Facebook fundraiser from comedienne Celeste Barber can only be spent within the state of New South Wales.
When Barber set up a Facebook fundraiser earlier this year, she clearly had no idea just how big it would get. Attempting to raise money for the NSW Rural Fire Service and those affected by the devastating Australian bushfire season, the campaign’s initial goal was a modest $30,000.
Before long, the fundraiser went viral, attracting not only thousands, but millions of dollars from altruistic donors. In fact, the campaign generated more funds than Barber was able to keep up with, as its goal kept getting updated to a higher and higher number all the time.
As it stands, a total of $51,299,348 has been raised; more than 1,709% of her initial goal.
Unfortunately, Barber’s goal of the cash being evenly spread throughout the affected states soon hit a roadblock, with the NSW Rural Fire Service revealing in February that they were unable to distribute the funds to different charities as originally planned.
“No one is being bad about this, it’s all very amicable, and we will try and see her wishes through,” RFS spokesman Ben Shepherd explained. “But, as it stands, the RFS is the beneficiary and we can’t donate money people gave us to other charities.”
Now, the NSW Supreme Court has ruled that the money raised by Barber can only be distributed by the NSW Rural Fire Service on equipment and staff resources, and cannot be distributed to other states or charities.
An update pic.twitter.com/OtfV1G3iR1
— Celeste barber (@celestebarber_) May 25, 2020
“It was decided today in the Supreme Court that the money we raised will stay with the NSW RFS,” Barber explained in a statement.
“I had hoped, because it was such a big and ‘unprecedented’ amount, that it could have been distributed to other states and charities, turns out that studying acting at university does not make me a lawmaker.
“So the money will be in the very capable, very grateful hands of the NSW RFS. It will be used for equipment and training, to support rural firefighters injured while fighting, the families of rural firefighters killed while fighting, 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.”
While Barber thanked Australian firefighters for their efforts and those who donated to her fundraiser, the NSW Rural Fire Service has stated they’ll keep the comedienne up to date with how the funds will be distributed.