Billionaire Andrew Forrest (pictured) has pledged to donate $70 million toward the bushfire response and recovery process.
Forrest, the former CEO of Australian iron ore mining company Fortescue Metals Group, will donate the $70 million via his philanthropic organisation Minderoo Foundation.
The charity will break down its donation with $10 million going toward mobilising specialist volunteers from Western Australia, $10 million in immediate bushfire relief funding, and a further $50 million to support the development of a long-term blueprint for fire resilience.
"With incredible courage and determination, Australians have united to help those devastated by these bushfires," says Forrest.
"We can all be proud of the efforts we have witnessed across the country to support those fighting the bushfires, those affected by them, and those seeking to provide support to people and wildlife. We extend our deepest sympathy and hope to all those affected."
"At Minderoo Foundation, we want to provide immediate relief because, like so many other West Australians, we mourn the hardships of our fellow countrymen and women. We recognise that we don't have all the answers, but we want to understand what communities need and do our bit to help them now and as they regroup in the coming months."
The Minderoo Foundation has separated its pledge into three immediate areas: response, recovery and resilience.
The $10 million used to mobilise volunteers from WA to help those in the eastern states will cover the travel and accommodation expenses for those specialised volunteers.
This WA response team will be led by Chris Mayfield OAM, a former member of the Australian Regular Army and the current manager of training and development at Fortescue Metals Group.
The $10 million in relief funding will be placed into the newly created Minderoo Foundation Fire Fund to help support communities to rebuild and revitalise local economies in the aftermath of the bushfires.
This fund will provide money directly to communities in collaboration with organisations like the Australian Red Cross and The Salvation Army, with all costs covered by Minderoo.
Forrest has encouraged others, both locally and abroad, to add to the Fire Fund. The project is now open for public donations here.
"Working with local organisations and alongside experts in relief and recovery including Australian Red Cross and The Salvation Army, Minderoo Foundation will consult with communities in the regions most affected by the bushfires to determine how best to assist, beginning in NSW (North Coast region, South Coast region, Southern Ranges), Victoria (Gippsland, Hume) and South Australia (Adelaide Hills, Kangaroo Island)."
The final 'R' is for resilience and will see the Minderoo Foundation looking to the future.
The Fire Fund will be leveraged to build long term resilience by convening experts to develop a "globally relevant national blueprint for fire and disaster resilience".
"Focus areas could include climate change, mental health, science and technology, environmental conservation, water security and land management, among others. It is intended the project will address the factors that contribute to and cause natural disasters and the considerations that govern our response to such crises," says the Minderoo Foundation.
This project will be established in early 2020, and the Foundation hopes to raise around $500 million. Minderoo has pledged $50 million to kickstart the effort.
Minderoo Foundation CEO Andrew Hagger says the work of Minderoo Foundation's Fire Fund project would commence with a small team visiting some of the worst hit communities in coming days.
"The first step is for us to listen, to ensure our efforts meet community needs and build on the great work already underway," says Hagger.
"We want to work in collaboration with all the organisations and government agencies which are providing the crucial support needed to help people come to terms with the losses and start the rebuilding process."
How to donate
If you would like to donate to an organisation assisting the victims of the bushfires the following organisations are accepting any and all help available:
- St Vincent de Paul Society
- Australian Red Cross
- Port Macquarie Koala Hospital
- CFA Victoria
- NSW Rural Fire Service
- Minderoo Foundation Fire Fund
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