Forrests make massive donation to bushfire recovery

ANDREW and Nicola Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation has pledged up to A$70 million for bushfire recovery.
Forrests make massive donation to bushfire recovery Forrests make massive donation to bushfire recovery Forrests make massive donation to bushfire recovery Forrests make massive donation to bushfire recovery Forrests make massive donation to bushfire recovery

Andrew and Nicola Forrest

In response to direct requests from authorities and communities, Minderoo will contribute $10 million for bushfire response, which will be used to mobilise specialist volunteers from Western Australia to assist firefighting operations and recovery efforts in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.

At least 1250 specialised volunteers, including firefighters, medics, tradespeople, mental health workers and ground clean up personnel, are expected to be needed, with the funding to allow for travel and accommodation expenses.

The response work will be led by former army member Chris Mayfield OAM, who will be seconded from Fortescue Metals Group where he is the manager of training and development.

FMG said it would second team members with specialist skills and support employees willing to volunteer with relief and recovery efforts for impacted communities.

Another $10 million will aid recovery efforts by providing funds directly to communities in collaboration with organisations like the Australian Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

The Minderoo Foundation Fire Fund project is now open for public donations at firefund.org.

The Fire Fund project will also invest in building long-term resilience by convening leading experts to develop a globally relevant national blueprint for fire and disaster resilience with the support of Conservation International.

It is intended the project, led by Data61 founding CEO Adrian Turner, will address the factors that contribute to and cause natural disasters and the considerations that govern our response to such crises.

Minderoo is launching the fund with a $50 million donation, but is aiming to raise $500 million globally.

FMG is donating $1 million to the fund.

"It is heartbreaking to see the devasting impact the bushfire crisis is having on people, communities and wildlife across Australia and our thoughts are with those affected and the emergency personnel on the ground fighting these fires," FMG CEO Elizabeth Gaines said.

"At Fortescue, our values of family and safety reminds us daily to look out for your mates, and this extends to supporting our fellow Australians in their time of need."

Andrew Forrest said the nation could be proud of its efforts to support firefighters and those impacted by the fires.

"With incredible courage and determination, Australians have united to help those devastated by these bushfires," he said.

"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 those affected would require practical and emotional support in the weeks and months ahead.

"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," she said.

Minderoo previously provided assistance in the wake of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, the 2011 Queensland floods, the 2016 bushfire in Yarloop, WA, and other disasters.

A number of mining companies have donated to bushfire relief.

The BHP Foundation has donated $2 million to the Australian Red Cross, while Rio Tinto has donated $1 million since November, as well as providing full leave entitlements to employees fighting the fires.

South32 donated $500,000 to the NSW Rural Fire Service and Rural Fire Brigades Association Queensland in November, and this week, donated a further $500,000 to the Australian Red Cross.

South32 has also made in-kind donations of face masks and will continue to match employee contributions to a number of supporting organisations including Australia's largest wildlife rescue organisation, WIRES, Buy A Bale and the Australian Red Cross.

Newcrest Mining donated $200,000 to the NSW Rural Fire Service and $200,000 to the Victorian CFA and has committed to match up to $200,000 of employees' donations.

Gold miner Saracen Mineral Holdings donated $25,000 and will match all employee donations.