Mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest has become the latest famous Australian to donate to the ongoing bushfire crisis which has so far claimed the lives of 26 people, one billion animals and destroyed more than six million hectares of land along with many properties.
The 59-year-old, from Perth, pledged a whopping $70 million to the relief effort on Thursday, following in the footsteps of the likes of James Packer, Kylie Minogue, Chris Hemsworth and comedian Celeste Barber who have all donated their own cash and rallied behind the cause.
The WA billionaire announced the huge financial package on social media, via his Minderoo Foundation, and explained that the monetary aid will not only go towards combatting the ongoing fires and helping communities rebuild, but it will also fund research to try and prevent similar disasters in years to come.
“Today we launch the Minderoo Fire Fund,” a post on the Minderoo Foundation’s Twitter page read. “A comprehensive $70 million relief package designed to not only respond to the ongoing crisis and rebuild communities, but to establish long-term resilience by funding research into and applying new techniques in fire and disaster relief.”
The relief package is comprised of $10 million to fund a volunteer army of 1,200 mining & agriculture workers to help with rebuilding efforts, $10m to support devastated communities alongside the Salvation Army And Red Cross, and $50 million for bushfire prevention planning.
Today we launch the Minderoo Fire Fund. A comprehensive $70 million relief package designed to not only respond to the ongoing crisis and rebuild communities, but to establish long-term resilience by funding research into and applying new techniques in fire and disaster relief. pic.twitter.com/OQBQJ0JkBp
— Minderoo Foundation (@minderoo) January 9, 2020
Earlier this week casino mogul James Packer told News Corp Australia that his family would be donating $4 million, split between the Packer Family Foundation and the Crown Resort Foundation, which would be paid this week.
That announcement came after Packer had already pledged $1 million over five years to the NSW Rural Fire Service, however the 52-year-old has since announced that sum will also be made available this week.
“Australians are digging deep to support each other in these tough times, it’s truly inspiring,” Packer told News Corp Australia. “My family and Crown are eager to do more and the best way we can help is to significantly increase our donation.
“We hope these funds play a small part in helping our firefighters, and easing the suffering of people who have lost their homes and the poor wildlife caught up in the blaze. We just want to do our bit.”
Other celebrities have donated including Hollywood star Chris Hemsworth who donated $1 million, Sir Elton John who also donated $1 million (£) and Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban who pledged $500,000.
The couple, whose property in rural NSW was under threat earlier this week, revealed they would be making a generous donation to rural fire services across Australia, as Nicole wrote on Instagram: “Our family’s support, thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the fires all over Australia. We are donating $500,000 to the Rural Fire Services who are all doing and giving so much right now.”
American pop star Pink announced on Instagram that she had donated US$500,000. She said: “I am totally devastated watching what is happening in Australia right now with the horrific bushfires. I am pledging a donation of $500,000 directly to the local fire services that are battling so hard on the frontlines. My heart goes out to our friends and family in Oz.”
While Aussie tennis star Ash Barty revealed she will be donating any prize money she wins at the Brisbane International competition to those affected by the blazes. Speaking on Sunday, she said: “It’s just a really tough time … tennis is a sport, it’s a game that we play, and there are certainly a lot of bigger things going on in Australia right now that we need to take care of.”
Meanwhile a fundraising effort set up by Aussie comedian Celeste Barber, who has a huge online following, has tipped 47 million, having garnered widespread attention from all over the world.