The donation comes as Australia faces an unprecedented bushfire season that so far has burned more than 10 million hectares, claimed 29 lives, more than 2,000 homes and decimated livestock and wildlife populations.
The $70 million donation from Andrew and Dr Nicola Forrest will be administered through their Minderoo Foundation in the form of a Fire Fund for bushfire response, recovery and resilience.
To date more than $200 million has been raised for bushfire assistance and recovery efforts across the country.
“With incredible courage and determination, Australians have united to help those devastated by these bushfires,” Andrew Forrest AO said.
“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.”
Nicola Forrest said the tragic loss of lives, the scale of the destruction of homes and properties and the devastation to Australia’s unique landscape were difficult for many Australians to comprehend.
“In the weeks and months ahead, people directly impacted by these fires will need both practical and emotional support,” Nicola Forrest AO said.
“They will need time to grieve their loss and to deal with the trauma of the experience and they will need practical help to start the process of rebuilding their lives. While rubble that was once someone’s home might now be unrecognisable, it is still home.
“Beneath the ash, memories still exist, and these should be treasured. We hope Minderoo Foundation’s contribution will complement existing efforts, provide hope to those hurting and encourage others to help in any way they can – big or small.”
Fire Fund – Response
Under the response stream, $10 million will be provided to mobilise specialist volunteers from Western Australia to assist firefighting operations and recovery efforts in Queensland, Victoria, NSW and South Australia. At least 1250 volunteers are expected to be needed.
The response stream will be led by Chris Mayfield OAM, a former member of the Australian Regular Army who spent 26 years in senior leadership positions, including overseas deployments leading large teams throughout South East Asia and the Middle East. Chris is being seconded from Fortescue Metals Group where he is the Manager Training and Development.
Fire Fund – Recovery
Another $10 million will be allocated to immediate bushfire recovery. The initiative will provide funds directly to communities, in collaboration with organisations such as Australian Red Cross and The Salvation Army, with all administration costs covered by Minderoo.
The funding will be used to support the needs that typically emerge as communities regroup after a disaster, including repairing infrastructure, supporting local businesses, caring for wildlife and livestock or providing equipment essential to the recovery efforts.
Fire Fund – Resilience
To build long-term resilience, a panel of leading experts will be convened to develop a globally relevant national blueprint for fire and disaster resilience.
The project will be supported by leading international non-profit environmental organisation, Conservation International, and led by led by Adrian Turner, an experienced international executive and founding CEO of CSIRO’s Data61, the data and digital specialist arm of Australia’s national science agency.
The project will be accompanied by a global effort to engage contributors and funders to raise approximately $500 million. Minderoo Foundation will kickstart this fundraising effort with a $50 million commitment.
Minderoo Foundation CEO Andrew Hagger said 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.
Philanthropic organisations across Australia are responing to the crisis with generous donations to the bushfire relief and recovery efforts.
Paul Ramsay Foundation has pledged $30 million. An initial $3 million will be provided to The Australian Red Cross, the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) and St Vincent De Paul to assist in the immediate relief efforts, with the remaining funds to be allocated to long-term work with impacted communities.
The Pratt Foundation’s $1 million donation is going to FRRR.
The Gandel family’s $1 million donation will support three key elements of the bushfire response – funding for firefighting efforts through donations to volunteer firefighters in New South Wales (NSW RFS), Victoria (CFA), Queensland (QFES) and South Australia (CFS); funding to assist people and communities affected by the bushfires through donations to national bushfire appeals of The Australian Red Cross, The Salvation Army and the St Vincent de Paul Society for relief activities in all the affected areas; and funding for the efforts to save, protect and recover wildlife through donations to WWF, WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service) and MKC/The Rescue Collective.
John and Pauline Gandel said: “The needs in this crisis far outstrip our contribution, but regardless we felt that we had to do our bit, and support as many key organisations as we can, in the hope that we can help make at least some difference to the lives of our fellow Australians devastated by this emergency.
“We also hope that this contribution will encourage others to help out in any way they can. Every donation, big or small, every hour of volunteering and every donated food or clothing item can – and will – make a difference to those in need.”
Atlassian will donate $1 million and its founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar will match the donation. The Atlassian Foundation will also match any donations made by Atlassian employees around the world.
Biggest bushfire donors
|Andrew and Nicola Forrest||$70m|
|Celeste Barber Facebook fundraiser||$51.2m|
|Paul Ramsay Foundation||$30m|
|Seven Group Holdings/Kerry Stokes ($5m corporate donation, $5m personal Stokes donation)||$10m|
|News Corp ($5m donation + $4m personal Murdoch family donation )||$9m|
|Crown, Packer family||$5m|
|Coles||$4m ($1m cash, $3m gift cards)|
|Leonardo DiCaprio’s Earth Alliance||$US3m ($4.3m)|
|Woolworths||$1.5m ($1m goods, $500k cash)|
|Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation||$1.5m|
|John and Pauline Gandel||$1m|
|Sir Elton John||$1m|
|Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar||$1m|
|Shane Warne fundraiser (baggy green cap)||$1m+|
|San Diego Zoo Global fundraiser||$500,000|
|Kylie and Dannii Minogue||$500,000|
|Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban||$500,000|
|Russell Crowe’s Rabbitohs cap auction||$500,000+|
|Master Builders Australia||$150,000|
|Law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler||$100,000|