Date: 11th January 2020
Author: Joseph Metha
About 10 million acres have burned in New South Wales, destroying nearly 1,000 homes. Around 90 fires are currently raging in the state, with about three dozen more to the south in Victoria. In total, roughly 12 million acres have been burned by the fires. By comparison, about 1.9 million acres burned in the 2018 fires in California; those fires, which were the state’s most destructive, killed about 100 people. This fire season has been one of the worst in Australia’s history, with at least 15 people killed, hundreds of homes destroyed and millions of acres burned. And summer is far from over.
The nation’s wealthiest individuals and philanthropic foundations are being jolted into action, upping the size of donations already committed by a string of rich donors to fight the bushfires ravaging the country and help fire volunteers and victims.
Since wildfires began devastating swaths of Australia in November, millions of people around the world have donated to disaster relief efforts. The fires spurred the largest Facebook fundraiser to date, with $34 million raised by over 1.2 million people. Australian comedian Celeste Barber, founder of the campaign, noticed the country’s richest did not seem to be among the early donors. In response, Barber took to Twitter urging more of the top 0.001% to participate, referencing last year’s Notre Dame fire that quickly prompted $670 million in donations from France’s leading billionaires and corporations. In all, Australia’s billionaires, and foundations associated with late billionaires, have given over $75 million in donations or pledges to the cause.
Gambling mogul James Packer pledged approximately $3.5 million through the Packer Family Foundation and the Crown Resort Foundation, the philanthropic arm of his casino resort company. Retail developer John Gandel and manufacturing mogul Anthony Prattdonated $700,000 each, with Pratt’s donation coming from his family’s foundation.
Tech cofounders Michael Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar also contributed $700,000 each, matching a $700,000 donation from their software company’s Atlassian Foundation. Initially, the pair contributed $70,000 each through a Twitter auction involving actor Russell Crowe’s hat.
Below, the list of major international bushfire donors:
|Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation||$70m|
|Paul Ramsay Foundation||$30m|
|Leonardo DiCaprio via Earth Alliance||$3.4m|
|Australian NBA stars||$1m+|
|John and Pauline Gandel||$1m|
|Hains family via Portland House Foundation||$1m|
|The Perich Group||$1m|
|Auction for Shane Warne’s baggy green cap (purchased by the Commonwealth Bank)||$1m|
|Lewis Hamilton||$730k approx|
|Kylie and Dannii Minogue||$500k|
|Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban||$500k|