The Red Cross has upped the amount of money it spent on bushfire-affected communities after months of intense scrutiny.
The Red Cross has upped the amount of money it spent on bushfire-affected communities after months of intense scrutiny.

Red Cross bushfire spending dramatically increases

The Red Cross has distributed almost 70 per cent of the hundreds of millions of dollars donated to it during the Black Summer bushfires.

Latest data from the charity shows $162 million of the $232m raised to help fire affected Australians has been handed out as of August 27.

The vast majority of the money handed out so far, $148m, has been spent on 11,000 grants to 5055 people.

The charity says less than four cents of each dollar has been eaten up by administration fees and $5m has been spent to fund its teams on the ground.

The town of Cobargo in NSW was devastated by fire in the early morning of 31 December 2019. Picture: Sean Davey
The town of Cobargo in NSW was devastated by fire in the early morning of 31 December 2019. Picture: Sean Davey

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The sums represent a sizeable increase after the charity came under heavy criticism for being too slow to hand out money to stranded survivors.

The Daily Telegraph, in May, spoke with people forced to live in caravans five months after the fires tore through the NSW South Coast.

At that time the charity had dispersed just $73m or 36 per cent of the money and remained committed to dribbling the money out over three years.

Cobargo publican, Dave Allen, slammed the response as "crazy" at the time.

That timeline is still in place, according to the latest report by the charity, with $18m quarantined for the long term.

 

Bushfire recovery down the main street of Cobargo. Picture: Toby Zerna
Bushfire recovery down the main street of Cobargo. Picture: Toby Zerna

 

Mr Allen, on Tuesday, said there was still work to do around his town just to get people into reliable accommodation.

He wants to see the charity spend up big on Minderoo Pods - tiny homes from Twiggy Forrest's philanthropic foundation.

"They're a life changing thing," he said, noting one of his staff members, who was living in a caravan for months, just received a pod.

"And given the amount of money Australians donated, everyone who needs one should be able to access one as the money is there to do so."

 

The Red Cross helicopter as it prepared to go out fighting bushfires. Picture: Mike Dugdale
The Red Cross helicopter as it prepared to go out fighting bushfires. Picture: Mike Dugdale

 

An interim report by the bushfire royal commission concluded charities, non government organisations and governments needed to work to empower community led-recovery.

Mr Allen said that was an approach he wanted to see rolled out in his fire-devastated town.

The pods, he said, would be one of many ways to spend now in a way that built the capacity to respond to future bushfire seasons and disasters.

"We need to start preparing again now," he said.

The Red Cross have been contacted for comment.

Originally published as Red Cross bushfire spending dramatically increases


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